By Olowogboyega Oyebade
Do you know that democracy is fast taking a deep root in the State of Osun? Do you know that the way and manner that the new Speaker, Honourable Timothy Owoeye was nominated, seconded and declared the Right HonourableSpeaker epitomized the highest level of decorum, party discipline and dedication to service by all the newly sworn-in members of Osun House of Assembly? Do you know that we could not have had it better? We seize this medium to congratulate all our leaders that made everything at the occasion smooth and free of rancour as we witnessed on 6th June, 2019 at the inauguration of the 7th Assembly of our dear State. We congratulate Hon Timothy Owoeye, The Speaker, all principal officers of the House and all members duly sworn in as members of the 7th Assembly. We congratulate Mr AdegboyegaOyetola on the peaceful inauguration of the House. Hurray! Democracy is taking root in Nigeria as we celebrate June 12 Democracy Day as a national holiday in Nigeria. The truth about that day is coming out now. Truth is never buried. The world is celebrating that truth with us on June 12. Chapter II: Adam – Sacred Texts of the Jews quoted in ‘Utopia’ of Harold Laski resonates:
The angels were not all of one opinion.
The Angel of Love favored the creation of man,
because he would be affectionate and loving;
but the Angel of Truth opposed it,
because he would be full of lies.
And while the Angel of Justice favored it,
because he would practice justice,
the Angel of Peace opposed it,
because he would be quarrelsome.
To invalidate his protest,
God cast the Angel of Truth down from heaven to earth,
And when the others cried out against such contemptuous
Treatment of their companion,
He said, “Truth will spring back out of the earth.”
Do you know that we have to appreciate MrPresident seriously for holding a crucial security meeting with the Security Chiefs and the Governors on the rising spate of insecurity in the country? Do you know that terror groups cannot mean well for a nation? Are you aware that World War I, known as the “war to end all wars,” took place between July 1914 and November 11, 1918? Do you know that by the end of that gruesome war, over 17 million people had been killed and 20 million people wounded? Do you know that the action of a terror group was the immediate cause of the war? You care for it? Come along,.
Are you aware that there was mutual suspicion among the countries of Europe pre World War 1? Do you know that this suspicion led each one to hook to one defenceagreement or the other for protection or deterrence? The mutual defence agreements existing at the time were: (1) Russia and Serbia (2) Germany and Austria-Hungary (3) France and Russia (4) Britain, France and Belgium (5) Japan and Britain. The alliances created tension in the region. And now the unthinkable came that put the mutual defence pact between Russia and Serbia to a litmus test against the pact of Germany and Austria-Hungary.
Do you know that in June 1914, a Serbian terror group called the Black Hand carried their campaign too far? Do you know that one of them named Gavrilo Princip shot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and his wife while they were driving through Sarajevo, Bosnia which was part of Austria-Hungary and they died of their wounds? Do you know that Austria and Hungary saw this assassination as a direct assault on their countries, not minding that it was done by a terror group? And what followed? Predictably, the military alliance of Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, an ally of Russia.
Do you know that before the world knew what was cooking, Russia had got involved to defend Serbia, militarily as contained in the defence agreement. .Germany, seeing Austria in trouble declared war against Russia. France, being in Alliance with Russia declared war against Germany, thus making Austria-Hungary and Germany to attack France by marching through Belgium. As soon as Britain saw that Belgium was humiliated, Britain joined the war. Later Japan Italy and the United States entered the war on the side of the allies.
Do you know that the lone assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand created a theatre for militarism, pent-up anger of imperialism and competition for resources in Africa and Asia by the competing European powers and mutual antagonism among the diverse people of Europe to lead 17 million people to their early graves in the war and about 20 million seriously wounded? Do you know that no effort should be spared by all of us to nip the present security threats in the bud? We must create platforms for peace like what Kant used his life to pursue. Do you know Immanuel Kant? You car? Come along.
Are you aware of Kant’s book titled ‘Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch” published in 1795? Do you know that Kant used his book to advocate for the establishment of a peaceful world community after the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century in an attempt to maintain the status quo between European States and to avoid war? Are you aware that the devastation in human and material casualties of those wars made nations of Europe to support the views of the legal minds to fashion out what we now call the Law of War or Humanitarian Law contained in Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 governing rules of war and the peaceful settlement of international disputes? Do you know that the Inter Parliamentary Union was formed in 1889 to pursue the same objective of global peace which eventually led to the establishment of the League of Nations to pursue peace in our world? You say: why? Come along.
The First World War occasioned and aggravated by a gruesome assassination by a terror cell in June 1914 ended in 1918. As a way to prevent further outbreak of war and in compliance with the thesis of Immanuel Kant, the League of Nations was formed on 10 January 1920 to supervise world peace. The moral burden of the Versailles Treaty, the rise of nationalism, the prosperity of imperialism in Europe and the absence of a standing force for the League of Nations dogged the geo-politics of the world between 1920 and 1938. The Second World War broke out inevitably, between 1939 to 1945 with devastating payloads in heavy human and material casualties.
Do you know that on 25 April 1945, 50 governments met in San Francisco in the United States of America for a conference and started drafting the UN Charter which was adopted on 25 June 1945 and signed on 26 June 1945 to establish a world body called the United Nations? This charter took effect on 24 October 1945, when the UN began operations. Do you know that its mission is to preserve world peace? Do you know that one of the UN’s primary purposes is to promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion? Do you know that member states including Nigeria pledged to undertake joint and separate action to protect these rights? Do you know that senseless killings and banditry are abuses of these rights of the people?
Are you aware that the UN has six principal organs, namely: the General Assembly; the Security Council; the Economic and Social Council; the Trusteeship Council; the International Court of Justice; and the UN Secretariat? Are you aware that the UN System agencies include the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization, the World Food Programme, UNESCO, and UNICEF? Do you know that a Nigerian is now elected as the President of the General Assembly? What are the functions of the General Assembly? Do you know that Nigeria is a major global player? Are you aware that a Nigerian has been elected President of the United Nations General Assembly? Do you know that the election imposes certain moral burden on us as a nation? You care to know what that means and what the General Assembly does? Come along, please.
Do you know that the UN General Assembly is the only one organ of the UN in which all member nations have equal representation? Are you aware that it is a forum for deliberation, policy-making, and representative organ of the UN? Do you know that it oversees the budget of the UN, appoints the non-permanent members to the Security Council, appoints the Secretary-General of the United Nations, receives reports from other parts of the UN, and makes recommendations in the form of General Assembly Resolutions? Do you know that it presides over the establishment of numerous subsidiary organs? Are you aware that voting in the General Assembly on certain important questions, namely, recommendations on peace and security, budgetary concerns, and the election, admission, suspension or expulsion of members is by a two-thirds majority of those present and voting?
Do you know that pursuant to its Uniting for Peace Resolution of November 1950 (resolution 377 (V)),) theGeneral Assembly may also take action if the Security Council fails to act, owing to the negative vote of a permanent member, in a case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression. Do you know that the General Assembly can consider the matter immediately with a view to making recommendations to Members for collective measures to maintain or restore international peace and security? That is the organ of the world where a Nigerian has been elected as President of the 74th Session of the Assembly to rule the world. Who is this Nigerian? Come along, please.
The United Nations (UN) General Assembly last week in New York elected Nigerian Professor, TijjaniMuhammad-Bande as the President of the 74th Session of the Assembly. Do you know that he had an outstanding career as a scholar and diplomat with B.Sc Degree in (Political Science) from the Ahmadu Bello University, MA Degree in (Political Science), Boston University and Ph.D (Political Science), University of Toronto, Canada.
Are you aware that he started at UsmanuDanfodiyo University, Sokoto, rising from Graduate Assistant in 1980 to full Professor in 1998, and ultimately to Vice-Chancellor, in 2004, a position he held for five years? Do you know that he served as the Director-General of Le Centre Africain de Formation et de Recherche Administratives pour le Dèvelopment(CAFRAD), in Tangier, Morocco between 2000-2004? Do you know that he held the position of Director-General of Nigeria’s National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, the country’s most reputable policy institution for training leaders from the public and private sectors, including high echelon officials of Nigeria’s Armed Forces from 2010 to 2016?
Do you know that as Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, he worked with colleagues from all regions of the World to achieve common objectives and served as the Vice-President of the General Assembly during the 71st session? Do you know that before his election he had remained active in several fora, including as Chair of the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations (C34), Member, Advisory Board of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre and Chair of the ECOWAS Group (2018-2019)? Do you know that he is scheduled to assume duties in September, 2019?
Do you know that our country should not embarrass him by messing up? Are you aware that common banditry in his home country, kidnapping, herdsmen attacks on farmers, ritual killings, organ harvesting, brazen abuse of human rights are enough bad news for him and peculiar embarrassments of our new status to the world? Do you know that we have to step up our traction to civilization in politics, security, economy, human rights and social inclusion to boost his ego to the world? Do you know that how far he can succeed in the post depends on all of us? We must be weary by now to be enough bad news.
Abi! How do we convince the world of our collective moral standing as the President of the General Assembly coinciding with the discovery of another £211m Abacha loot in another secret account in Channel Islands. The world is watching! The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, while congratulating Professor Muhammad-Bande, remarked: “As a Nigerian and an African, you have invaluable insights into the continent’s challenges – such as the Sahel and Lake Chad basin – and more broadly into the challenges our world faces across the three pillars of our work, peace, sustainable development and human rights.”
Hurray! Another £211m loot belonging to Late Abacha has been discovered. Do you know that it was laundered through the United States into the Channel Islands before his death in 1998 through accounts held in Jersey by Doraville Properties Corporation, a British Virgin Islands company? Do you know that the money is now being held by the government until authorities in Jersey, the US and Nigeria come to an agreement on how it should be distributed? Do you know that by the time Abacha died in office in June 1998, he had reportedly stolen an estimated $2.2bn from the country’s coffers undiscovered? The statement of Jersey’s Attorney General, Robert MacRae, cuts in:
“In restraining the funds at the request of the United States of America, through whose banking system the funds were laundered prior to arriving here, and in achieving the payment of the bulk of the funds into the Civil Asset Recovery Fund, Jersey has once again demonstrated its commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”
We must appreciate the efforts of the President in tackling crime and corruption in the country. We must appreciate what Mr President is thinking about the State Police to have it on ground. Do you know that the Police has a strength of about 371,800 men? Do you know there are just plans to add about 280,000 new recruits? Do you know that the country is under-policed? Do you know that Nigeria is the only Federation in the world that does not have State Police?
Hurray! The Presidential Panel on the reform of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) chaired by the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission, Tony Ojukwu has submitted its report? Are you aware that the panel recommended the establishment of State and Local Government police to confront the growing spate of insecurity in the country? Do you know that Ojukwu explained that the panel received 113 complaints on alleged human rights violations from across the country and 22 memoranda of suggestions on how to reform and restructure SARS and the Nigeria Police in general?
Do you know that at the end of its public hearing and having listened to complaints as well as defendants and their counsels, the Panel recommended thirty seven (37) Police ofﬁcers for dismissal from the force and twenty four (24) were recommended for prosecution? Do you know that the panel also directed the Inspector General of Police to unravel the identity of twenty two (22) ofﬁcers involved in the violation of the human rights of innocent citizens? Are you aware that the police was directed to pay compensation of various sums in forty—ﬁve (45) complaints and tender public apologies in ﬁve (5) complaints and directed to obey court orders in ﬁve (5) matters? Do you know that the Police was directed to immediately arrest and prosecute two (2) retired senior Police ofﬁcers found to have violated the rights of citizens (one for extra-judicial killing and the other for illegal take-over of Property of a suspect? Do you know that the Panel also recovered two vehicles illegally auctioned by SARS Ofﬁcers and returned them to their owners?
Do you know that the panel recommended signiﬁcant improvement in the funding, kitting and facilities of the Nigeria Police Force; strengthening Information and Communication Technology of the Force; and establishment of State and local government Police? Do you know that President Buhari has given the Inspector-General of Police, Ministry of Justice and National Human Rights Commission three months to work out the modalities for the implementation of the report? The voice of President Muhammadu Buhari cuts in:
“I believe that the report of the panel and recommendations contained therein would go a long way in redressing the grievances of the complainants, ensure accountability on the part of the police officers in discharging their responsibilities and facilitate the various police reforms being introduced by this administration.Iwant to assure you and all Nigerians that this administration will continue to fulfil its obligations of promoting and protecting human rights of Nigerians, and will give the National Human Rights Commission all the support required to ensure full implementation of the recommendations contained in its report.“In addition, we will strengthen the operations of the commission to enhance its effectiveness and capability to resolve cases of human rights violations.“This administration is conscious of the role the commission plays in ensuring security and stability in the nation through the resolution of complaints of human rights violations, which if neglected, could result into major security challenges.’
What an ingenious way to appreciate the world for the honour done us to make one of our own the President of the General Assembly? What an incredible way to strengthen our human rights credentials as we celebrate a new democratic vistas of June 12 nationally recognized? Thank you, Mr President for making “Truth to spring back out of the earth”. Happy June 12 Democracy Day.