Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State inspecting the Garrison Junction flyover project in Port Harcourt. Picture by the Rivers State government-owned newspaper, thetidenewsonline.com
Administrations at the federal, state and local governments always come with new policies, developments and changes intended to showcase its performance in providing the dividends of democracy to the citizens. However, despite numerous infrastructure and development projects embarked upon by the federal, state and local governments areas (LGAs), Nigerian citizens have seen crumbling public infrastructures as successive administrations do not adequately maintain projects.
The administration Chief Barrister Ezenwo Nyesom Wike in Rivers State has embarked on several commendable infrastructure projects, especially in road construction. In the past months, the state has witnessed the commencement of three new flyovers in ObioAkpor and Port Harcourt City Local Government Areas (LGAs). These include the Oro Abali flyover (Garrison Junction), which has been completed and commissioned, the Okoro Nundo flyover (Rumuokoro), and the Artillery Flyover as part of other numerous urban renewal constructions ongoing in Rivers State.
Text of a Press Briefing by Social Action and Key Civil Society Organisations
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Abuja, FCT, Nigeria
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the Media, we have organised this briefing to call public attention to major flaws in the federal government’s proposals in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), and our concerns about the manner the National Assembly has managed the Public Hearings on the Bill. Like most Nigerians, we believe that a new set of laws are necessary to govern the petroleum industry in Nigeria. However, the PIB’s proposals, as it is, would promote environmental impunity in the oil industry and exacerbate social dislocation in the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta.
The State of the Nation
2020 has been a momentous year for Nigeria. First, the COVID-19 global pandemic further exposed the fragility of the country’s socio-political foundations. The state proved unable to respond to the needs of its citizens at a time of crisis. Secondly, the #EndSARS protests were the largest in the history of Nigeria. Youth-led mobilisations in Nigerian cities and globally expressed the outrage of the people against a failed system. The response of the Nigerian government to the popular and peaceful protests was reminiscent of the dark days of military dictatorship. We are, again witness to an escalation of state impunity and brazen disrespect for the rule of law and human rights in our country, as exemplified by the repression and attacks on #EndSARS protesters, the #Lekki killings, the Oyigbo massacre of civilians by men of the Nigerian military. The continuing trials and restrictions on the movement of Omoyele Sowore, and other activists and journalists, and fragrant disrespect and disregard for court orders and judicial pronouncements show shrinking civic and political spaces, which exacerbate a general state of insecurity and palpable tension in Nigeria at time of worsening social and economic conditions for most citizens.
More Nigerians are sinking into poverty than in any other country in the world. Almost one hundred million Nigerians are now living in extreme poverty even as the political elite and their cronies continue to profiteer from public resources. Over a million Nigerians are living in IDP camps as a result of violent conflicts. In the Boko Haram war in the northeast, incessant bandit killings in the northcentral, the Biafra secessionist agitations, kidnappings across the country, extrajudicial killings by men of the Nigerian Police, massive and ongoing corruption, enormous unemployment, we see overwhelming evidence of a Nigeria state in deep crisis.
Today, after more than twenty-one years of civil rule, more than ever, Nigeria is witnessing the worst period in its history with a glaring collapse of governance structures across the land. This, therefore, is a time for democracy defenders and concerned citizens to intervene to rescue Nigeria. The Conveners of the Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference believe in the imperative of civic intervention of the Pan-Nigerian character reminiscent of the 1990s pro-democracy movement in the face of the current struggle for a better Nigeria. Enduring nation-states that work for their citizens are built through the conscious will and actions of individuals and groups who envision and act, at different moments, to instil alternative national ethos and practices.
The Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference, 2020
The Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference is an annual event that brings together veterans of the pro-democracy movement and younger activists and serves as a platform for inter-generational dialogue. The Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference, 2020 will enable pro-democracy activists, social justice advocates and organic scholars to examine the democratic practices in Nigeria since 1999 in the light of recent repression of the #EndSARS protest and, and to discuss options for sustaining the popular democratic movement in the country.
Maimuna Dahiru tending her vegetables
By Joy Bitrus Ashalva, Project Officer, Social Action
Maimuna Dahiru is a 35-year-old woman originally from Baga, in Kukawa Local Government Area (LGA) of Borno State in North-Eastern Nigeria. A mother of eight children, including five girls and three boys, Maimuna and her family fled when Boko Haram insurgents attacked Baga town in December, 2018. Since 2013, particularly in 2015, Boko Haram fighters have raided Baga and surrounding villages, killing thousands of people and burning homes and public buildings. Given the fluid security situation, people sometimes return to their community after periods of calm only for the insurgents to strike again.
Picture shows CRC members leading a protest to seek a reversal of the government’s policies
As Nigeria marked its 60th Independence Anniversary on October 1 this year, the Civil Rights Council (CRC) established by Social Development Integrated Centre, SOCIAL ACTION, commemorated the nation’s history with a protest march to draw attention to the surreptitious hike in fuel price and electricity tariffs across the country. It will be recalled that the Nigerian economy experienced a decline, following the COVID-19 lockdown, and many Nigerians faced biting hardship as a result. Amidst these occurrences, the Federal Government suddenly announced an increment in tariff of essential commodities such as Electricity and Premium Motor Spirit (PMS). The inflation in the cost of these commodities had negative impacts on other essential services and inevitably increased daily cost of living. This generated reactions from organized labour and Civil Society groups in Nigeria, leading to a national debate and call for mass action in the country. CRC galvanized its structures to participate in this national debate and to initiate a mass protest on the Nation’s Independence Day Anniversary.
Written by Lillian I. Akhigbe
The recent ban on routine patrol duties of the Federal Special Anti – Robbery Squad (FSARS) by the Federal Government of Nigeria, is certainly not the first of its kind, as such proclamations have been made by the hierarchy of the Nigeria Police severally, with no effective compliance resulting therefrom. Within the past five years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, there have been at least 5 marching orders made with respect to FSARS and in response to the allegations of human rights violations levelled against officers of the FSARS division of the Police Force by several persons across the country. Many FSARS officers have gained notoriety for their inappropriate dressing and illegal activities which they perpetrate under the guise of conducting stop and search operations along the highways. The unlawful activities meted out on innocent Nigerians by FSARS include, harassments, intimidation, physical assaults, extortion, illegal detention, torture and extra – judicial killing.
Mr Kie Obomanu, the chairman of Persons Living with a Disability in Rivers State
By Mercy Tochi Christopher
It is no more headline news that COVID-19 has upended lives around the world, creating disruptions in almost every aspect of the society and exacerbating existing pressures. For people living with a disability and orphaned children, however, the outbreak has multiplied the pre-existing challenges they face as vulnerable members of the society, making them more vulnerable to contracting the virus and to the adverse impacts associated with the outbreak.
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from within and outside the Niger Delta region, in conjunction with representatives of various communities in the region, have called for a total change of leadership in the Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC. They made the call at a virtual roundtable with the theme: POSITION DIALOGUE ON THE NDDC, which was convened by Social Development Integrated Centre (SOCIAL ACTION) and the African Centre for Media, Information and Literacy (AFRICMIL) on Friday, 17th July, 2020. The meeting was held in the light of events at the NDDC, ranging from allegations of contract frauds and fiscal recklessness, to Procurement law infractions, audit violations, cronyism, non-budgetary and extra-budgetary spending, and extensive disregard to procedural rules.
Written by Lucas Nwachukwu
On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, the Federal Government of Nigeria announced the sudden increase in the pump price of petrol by over ₦20. A litre of fuel will now sell between ₦140.8 and ₦143.8 at retail stations across the country, up from the previous ₦121.50 and ₦123.50 band. The increase was sequel to the recommendations given to the Federal Government by the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) which is responsible for fixing the price of petroleum products in the country. According to the PPPRA Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu, “After a review of the prevailing market fundamentals in the month of June and considering marketers’ realistic operating costs, as much as practicable, we wish to advise a new PMS pump price band of ₦140.80 – ₦143.80 per litre, for the month of July 2020.” It could be recalled that the PPPRA had on May 31, 2020, announced a new pump price band that would be ₦121.50 to ₦123.50 per litre, a decision which was informed by the crash in the price of crude oil at the global market due to the ravaging impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is therefore ill-timed and preposterous, the recent increase to ₦140.80 – ₦143.80 of the pump price of petrol, at a time when oil prices are making a remarkable comeback after falling to a record low in April, as a barrel of crude oil now sells for between $39.81 and $42.27 at the international market.
Governor Udo Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State
AKWA IBOM REPORT
The Civil Society Organisation Forum in Akwa Ibom State under the auspices of the CSO Situation Room has called on the State Government to account for the COVID-19 intervention funds which it has so far, received. According to the CSO Network, the demand was made in the interest of promoting transparency and accountability in the management and utilisation of public resources, as well as building public trust. It noted that the Akwa Ibom State Government has an obligation to make public every source of funding, received with respect to the COVID-19 outbreak to help the State respond effectively to the scourge and curtail its impacts. But till date, the government has failed to disclose this very important information to the public. The State Government had earlier disclosed that the State had spent One Billion Naira in fighting COVID-19, but no further detail was given with regards to how the funds were sourced and expended.