By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Do you know that Mr Adegboyega Oyetola deserves a huge round of applause for re-introducing History as a subject to schools in the State of Osun? Do you know that great nations hold dear the study of History? Are you familiar with the 1926 novel efforts of Carter Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History when the second week of February was dedicated to be “Negro History Week” which has metamorphosed to Black History Month, an annual observance originating in the United States? Do you know that it has been recognized in Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom as a way of remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora?
Do you know that the initial phase of the celebration was to encourage the coordinated teaching of the History of black Americans in the nation’s public schools? Do you know that the import of February as the Black History Month is to elucidate that a race that does not study its history stands in danger of being exterminated? Do you know that on 4thNovember, 2008, Barack Obama became the first African American to be elected President of the United States with 53 percent of the popular votes and 365 special electoral votes? Do you know that this rare feat was celebrated around the world? Do you know that this feat was made possible by the awareness created by the celebration of Black History Month?
Have you read about Virginia McLaurin, a 106-year Washington D.C. resident and school volunteer? Do you know that in the frenzy of the celebration of the Black History Month, she visited the White House on 21 February, 2016 at the twilight of Obama’s reign? Do you know that the infectious joy radiating on her face made the President to ask why she was there? The voice of McLaurin cuts in:
“A Black President. A Black wife. And I’m here to celebrate Black history. That’s what I’m here for.”
Do you know that the eight-year sojourn of BarackObama in the White House casts a statement of capacity of a black man to rule the world? Are you aware that the drug-free success of Usain Bolt, a black Jamaican judged to be the best contemporary athlete in modern History is another badge on the ceremonial costumes of every black man? Do you know that since 2016 that Obama completed his term of office, the history of black nations particularly in Africa, from Egypt to South Africa, from Gambia to Gabon, is a history of savagery manifesting in death, kidnapping, rape and banditry, a near-replica of the savage civilization of the early man? Do you know that Nigeria as the biggest black nation in the world is having a fair bite of these atrocious happenings? Do you know the Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El Rufai, celebrated his birthday on Monday 17th February, 2020? Do you know that at the occasion the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, while celebrating the celebrant declared that Nigeria is at crossroad as insecurity in form of kidnapping, banditry, assassination and Boko Haram menace remain major challenges in the country? Do you know that the current exploits of Boko Haram and the upsurge in banditry and kidnapping are not the proper ways to mark Black History Month? Camara Laye in the ‘Guardian of the Word’, cuts in:
“African politicians make politics a bloody massacre.
They make non-Africans to laugh at the immaturity of Africa.”
Are you aware that Emir Lamido Sanusi on Monday, 17thFebruary, 2020, while speaking at the same 60th birthday of Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, said he was not happy with the situations in Nigeria? The voice of Emir Sanusi cuts in: “If the North does not change by tackling some of its social problems, it will destroy itself. When we talk about birthday, we talk about happiness. Just last week, someone asked me, are you happy? And I said I am not. And the person was surprised….. No Northern leader should be happy with the current situation in the region today…with about 87 percent of poverty in Nigeria being in the North.You can’t be happy with millions of Northern children out of school. You can’t be happy with nine States in the North contributing almost 50 percent of the entire malnutrition burden in the country. You can’t be happy with the drug problem; you can’t be happy with the Boko Haram problem. You can’t be happy with political thuggery. You can’t be happy with all the issues; the Almajiri problem that we have. We have been saying this for 20 to 30 years. If the North does not change, the North will destroy itself. The country is moving on. Quota system that everybody talks about must have a sunset clause. So, we wish Nasir a happy birthday, but we do not want him to be happy as a leader. Because you are happy when you think you have reached a state of delivering and taking your people to where you want them to be.”
Do you know that celebration of Black History Month in February does not end with teaching of History in our Schools? Do you know that the celebration is commonly used to raise awareness in contemporary issues? Do you remember the Power Sector Reforms which started from President Obasanjo, through Yaradua to Jonathan and the present administration? Can you recall that the successful opening of financial bids for 15 successor companies for Power Holding Company towards the end of 2012 opened the gates for the financial inflows into the country in terms of privatisation proceeds? Can you recall that acting on behalf of the Federal Government, the Bureau of Public Enterprises had in its power sector reform programme overseen the sale of 15 power companies — 10 distribution companies and five generation companies in 2013? Do you remember that $1.26bn was realised from the sale of the 10 distribution companies and $1.06bn was realised from the sale of the five generation companies? Do you know that the bids were eventually devoid of promise? ?Are you aware that Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), insisted that power distributors had defaulted on several agreements since they took over the power assets on 1st November, 2013? Do you know that the Managing Director, NDPHC, Chiedu Ugbo, while speaking at the Nextier Power Dialogue in Abuja, said that while power generation had recorded a huge success since the sector was privatised, distribution had not been impressive at all? Can you recall that, speaking at the opening of the 23rd Nigeria Economic Summit in Abuja on 10thOctober, 2017, the Chairman of Heirs Holding, Mr Tony Elemelu, had asked the government to dilute the shares of the private investors in the power companies? Do you know that the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, called on the Federal Government to revisit the privatisation of the sector to change the trajectory of our collective history of development?
Are you aware that the Bureau of Public Enterprises said in October 2018 that the five-year performance agreement with the core investors in the Discos, with the exception of Kaduna Disco, became effective on 1st January, 2015 and the fifth anniversary for final performance review would therefore be December 31, 2019? Do you know that Malam El Rufai was the head of the ad-hoc committee on power and that at the end of last month’s National Economic Council meeting, he disclosed that the Federal Government spent N1.7 trillion on electricity in three years without commensurate results? He said: “What we have agreed on is that there are fundamental problems in the electronic supply industry, and that you cannot privatise an industry and then over three years since privatisation, you pump in N1.7 trillion of government into it. That is not privatisation… this is not sustainable. So, solutions must be found.
Hurray! Are you aware that the Federal Government has declared that Distribution Companies (DisCos) have failed in distributing power across the country and vowed it would no longer subside the DisCos despite doling out about N1.7 trillion to the companies in three years only to distribute 3000mw out of about 10,000mw generated? Do you know that in the report of the Minister, while the DisCos were collecting the 3000mw, they were only paying for 1,000mw? The voice of Mamman cuts in : “We presented achievements right from the day we took oath of office to date. We want to tell Nigerians what we achieved in the value chains. Nigeria can generate up to 13,000 megawatts of electricity but we cannot transmit all. So, today, we presented to the council the solution to the problem of our generation. It is mainly distribution. We can transmit, we can generate 13,000 megawatts, wetransmit 7,000 megawatts but can only distribute 3,000. There is a lot of work to be done in transmission companies and the government is now willing to take up the matter immediately…One of the things I will tell you is that government has signed memorandum of understanding with the German government, Siemen. They are to align between distribution and transmission and also generation. So that at the end of the day if we generate 13,000 megawatts, transmission will take the whole 13,000 and will distribute same, that way Nigerians will be happy and everyone will have 24/7 electricity supply.”
Are you aware that this administration in Nigeria wants to celebrate Black History Month indirectly by contemplating rehabilitation and amnesty programmesfor the de-radicalized terrorists? Do you know that section 46 of the EFCC Act 2004 defines “terrorism” to mean a violation of the criminal code or the penal code and with likelihood of endangering life, integrity or freedom, or causing serious injury or death with the intent to force the person(s) or body or government to do or not to do certain things or disrupt and includes financing or aiding terrorism? Do you know that the punishment for the crime in Section 15 of the EFCC Act is imprisonment for life? Do you know that this is the reason a section of Nigerians are opposing the amnesty programmes for these felons? Do you know that what the government intends to do is in line with international best practises and had already begun through Operation Safe Corridor initiated in 2016?
Are you aware of Operation Safe Corridor (OSC), an operation initiated in 2016 by the Federal Government to de-radicalise repentant members of Boko Haram that were not captured in combat? Do you know that those captured in combat were profiled for prosecution, but those found that had not been ideologically indoctrinated but were conscripted through abduction, were the ones being profiled for amnesty programme? Do you know that they were called low-risk combatants and tolerated for their nuissance value? Do you know that these repentant members have been assisting the military by providing intelligence on Boko Haram’s activities? Do you know that about 1,400 ‘repentant’ Boko Haram suspects, who were in detention, were recently released and resettled into the society by the military? Do you know that about 1.7 million people have been displaced in Borno alone with the value of the damage estimated at about $9.6 billion in Borno alone and about 60,000 children already orphaned? Do you know that the insurgency is going into its 10th year and some children have not been in school in the last 10 years? Do you know that these children we now allow to be without education will in turn be smart ballistics in the hands of terror machines tomorrow? Do you know that a fresh crisis of confidence looms in the country as stakeholders were rejecting a move by the Senate to establish an agency to make life comfortable for ‘repentant’ BokoHaram terrorists irrespective of their wanton destruction of lives and property?
Are you aware that the National Assembly plans to achieve this by passing a bill for an Act tagged “An agency for the Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of repentant insurgents in Nigeria (Est, etc) Bill, 2020” sponsored by Senator Ibrahim Geidam (Yobe East) the immediate past governor of Yobe State? Do you know that the proponents of this legislation believe that the de-radicalised Boko Haram members should be allowed to enjoy the Presidential Amnesty Programme like the one packaged for the Niger Delta militants? Do you know that the bill, the first reading of which got automatic passage on the floor of the Senate, seeks to give immediate legal backing for repentant insurgents to be integrated into the society? Do you know that the main objectives of the Bill include:
to provide an avenue for rehabilitating, de-radicalizing, educating and reintegrating the defectors, repentant and detained members of the insurgent group, Boko Haram, to make them useful members of the society, to provide an-open-door and encouragement for other members of the group who are still engaged in the insurgency to abandon the group, to give the government an opportunity to derive insider-information about the insurgents for greater understanding, and to enable government gain greater understanding of the insurgents and enable the government to address the immediate concerns of violence and study the needs of de-radicalization effort?
Do you know that critics of the exercise pointed out that victims of the Boko Haram attacks had remained substantially neglected in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps, contending with rape, hunger, malnutrition, without enjoying Presidential Amnesty Programme, and now such programme is contemplated for their tormentors? Are you aware that the Senate Committee on Business and Rules has been directed to schedule the bill for general debate after which it would be passed at second reading and third reading? Do you know that however ugly the entire scenario is, it is in line with international best practices? Do you know that the Talibans and the United States of America are currently engaging in dialogue after decades of hostilities? Do you know that the United States and Iran are already on the dialogue table after the recent face-off occasioned by the reckless assassination of General Solemani? Do you know that we cannot enjoy the celebration of Black History Month without rebilitating the de-radicalised Boko Haram members and the victims of their horrendous acts? Do you know that we must encourage them to come to the table to dialogue?
Do you know that our contemporary history is becoming annoying and cannot be celebrated in this Black History Month? Do you know that the European Union which comprises Germany, Italy, Spain, France and 23 other countries declared that it can impose restrictive visa implementation rules on Nigeria, if it fails to play its part in the return and re-admission of its nationals staying illegally in the EU or in the alternative, make its visas more difficult for Nigerian applicants if Nigeria fails to meet its standards? Can you please recall that the United States had last month imposed immigrant visa ban on Nigeria and five other countries? Do you know that under the new policy, citizens of the affected countries would not be allowed to apply for visas to emigrate to the US under the policy aimed at tightening “security for countries that do not comply with the US minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration? Do you know that according to the Department of Homeland Security, Nigeria presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the US? Are you aware that the US further stated that Nigeria does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, which is necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the US? Do you know that following the US action, the Federal Government set up a committee headed by the Minister of Interior, OgbeniRauf Aregbesola, to ensure that Nigeria meets requirements the US said were not in place? Do you know that Nigerians are among top 10 nationals illegally staying in EU and that Nigerian criminal networks remained active in the EU? Do you know that Nigeria remains the main non-EU country of origin for victims of trafficking (mainly women) registered in the EU? Can you now see that these are no good ways to mark the Black History Month?
Are you aware that the Governor of Borno State Professor Zulum is desirous to celebrate this year’s Black History Month? Why? Do you know that the war in the North East of Nigeria is fast becoming a festering sore? Are you aware that a nine-man House Committee on Defence visited Government House, Maiduguri Borno State last week in company of the Theater Commander Operation Lafiyà Dole, MaimalariCantonment Maiduguri, Major-General OlusegunGabriel Adeniyi and other senior military officers? Are you aware that on Wednesday 19thFebruary, 2020, the Borno State Governor Umara Zulum appealed to the National Assembly to help put in place practical measures that would save his people from the agonies of Boko Haram insurgents and end the menace? Do you know that he specifically called on the lawmakers to give the military high command the latitude to recruit into the army indigenes of the State willing to defend their communities? The voice of Governor Zulum cuts in:
“I thank you for the visit and interface with the government with a view to finding lasting solutions to the lingering crisis. I have mentioned it severally. We acknowledge that fact that federal government and Nigerian military have done well between 2015 and 2018. I even said it long ago that there is however a demarcation, a very distinct one between what happened and what is happening now. There is a difference in the manner the military operated years back and how they are operating today. There is need for re-strategy…What we should do is to take the fight to the enclaves. The communities are rendering information to the military to the best of my knowledge.Another issue is the commercial activities in the state, how it has been paralysed. There is no place for employment of the unemployed youths. No place for farmers to farm .”
Do you know that to celebrate this Black History Month, the Senate on Wednesday 19thFebruary, 2020 passed for second reading a bill seeking to establish the National Commission Against the Proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons? Do you know that the sponsor of the bill, Senator Smart Adeyemi (APC Kogi West), said the functions of the commission when established, would among others, include identifying sources and routes of small arms and ammunitions; identifying those involved in the illicit trade; and providing harmonisation of intelligence and information collection? Are you aware that “Light weapons”are infantry-portable weapons that are either crew-served kinetic firearms, incendiary devices or shoot explosive munitionswhich include: anti-materiel rifles/anti-tank rifles, general-purpose machine guns/medium machine guns, heavy machine guns, portable flamethrowers, grenades, rifle grenades/underslung grenade launchers, grenade launchers, automatic grenade launchers, recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, man-portable anti-tank missiles, man-portable air-defense systems and mortars under 100 millimetres calibre?
Do you know that Small arms and light weapons are used in conflicts around the world, causing injury and death? Are you aware that the control of small arms first manifested through UN Resolution A/RES/46/36 of December 1991), which was expanded upon by A/RES/50/70 of January 1996? Do you know that the recommendations of expert reports returned to the General Assembly, through Resolutions A/52/298 (1997) and A/54/258 of 1999 which later led to a July 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms, with a follow-up in July 2006? Do you know that on 26 September 2013 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 2117, which urged nations to remain committed to small arms embargoes and SALW control protocols? Do you know that on 2 April 2013, the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) to govern the legal international trade in many types of conventional weapons, from warships and aircraft to small arms and light weapons and a basic obligation of the treaty is that all States Parties should establish or maintain controls in the area? Do you know that the treaty opened for signature on 3 June 2013 and about 130 countries have signed the treaty (130 states), and 72 have ratified it? Do you know that the treaty entered into force on 24th December, 2014? Do you know that small arms proliferation refers to bothauthorized and illicit acquisition of these arms and light weapons (SALW), as well as their parts, accessories, and ammunition? Do you know that these are choice weapons for a majority of regional conflicts and terror groups operating around the world? Do you know that a research group called Small Arms Survey based in Switzerland reported that as at 2010, the number of countries exporting at least $100 million of small arms annually rose from 12 to 14? Do you know that the major exporters of small arms include the U.S., followed by Italy, Germany, Brazil, Austria, Switzerland, Israel, Russia, South Korea, Belgium, China, Turkey, Spain and the Czech Republic and Sweden? Are you aware that in 2018, Small Arms Survey reported that there are over one billion small arms distributed globally, of which 857 million (about 85 percent) are in civilian hands? Do you know that Africa is transiting through a trying phase in the history of its evolution as a major world civilization, challenges that are characterized by the extremes of hunger, refugee flow and internally displaced persons occasioned by violent conflicts and wars? Do you know that many of the illicit trades in small arms in Africa can be attributed to post-conflict removal and movement of weapons? Are you aware that Article 1 of ECOWAS Convention on SALW, Ammunition and other Related Materials, classified light weapons in line with the International Convention on Small Arms? Do you know that the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons recommends the establishment of a National Commission for the Prohibition of illegal importation of small arms, ammunitions and light weapons for all member States? Do you know that Nigeria is yet to establish that National Commission as the country has been relying on a Presidential Committee to deal with the issue ? Do you know that this is the Commission that the Bill of Senator Smart Adeyemi proposes to establish?
Do you know that Nigeria is relying on the Firearms Act of 1959 in handling cases of violations? Are you aware that it was in 2018 that the National Assembly moved for the amendment of the Firearms Act titled the Firearms Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which was in November 2018? Do you know that the bill was passed to provide for the increase of fine and stringent jail terms against offenders, and destruction of illegal imported firearms imposed in Section 27 (1) (c) (i-v), 28 and 35 (2) of the Act? Do you know that the Amendment recommends 10 years imprisonment for illegal possessors, importers and manufactures of firearms in the country and prescribes a fine of 1 million naira against offenders as well as stamping of all firearms sold or transferred respectively? Do you know that Nigeria has been besieged by the outbreak of conflicts which has over the years claimed thousands of lives and property owing to the activities of kidnappers, armed robbers, sea pirates, political thugs, arms traffickers and most importantly, the extremist group, Boko Haram? Do you know that this is the reason that the ECOWAS Treaty provides that member States including Nigeria must establish National Commission on Small Arms to serve as a legal framework for combating arms proliferation in order to enhance human security in Nigeria?
Do you know that the proliferation of Small arms and light weapons within and across the country is one of the major reasons why the war on terror appears to be endless? Do you know that this is part of the fallouts of the 2011 Libyan war that ended the 42-year rule of Maummar Gaddafi? Do you know that the conflicts in neighbouring countries like Mali, Chad and Niger and the porous nature of Nigeria’s borders have been blamed for creating fertile ground for arms traffickers to have a free day?Do you know that the unchecked activities of arms dealers with the existence of unmanned border points will in the long run dwarf the efforts of government in dealing with asymmetric threats in the country? Do you know that thewaterways and seaports provide opportunity for dealers to traffic arms into the country through ships and speedboats and the use of canoes in the creeks? Do you know that most gun dealers operate a black market business?
Hurray! Are you aware that Nigerian borders are now to be manned by electronic devices to reduce importation ofsmall arms and light weapons into the country? Do you know that there is need for the Federal Government to facilitate the formulation and implementation of new arms control policy by developing an effective early warning and intelligence gathering and processing? Do you know that we must fast-track the establishment of the National Commission on Small Arms and Light Weapons in line with the provision of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms? Do you know that this may be our own smart way to mark Black History Month in Nigeria? We join millions of Osun indigenes and residents to congratulate Mr Adegboyega Oyetola on his good efforts to establish Osun Version of Amotekun Security Outfit. The outfit should justify the essence of its evolution in all its operations. Congratulations to us all as the bill is to be debated in our State this week. It is a quick way to mark Black History Month.