The plan by the Federal Government to register illegal or irregular immigrants over a six month period, after which their statuses as citizens would be regularised, as announced about a forthnight ago is ill-timed, ill-advised and unconstitutional. It should be known to the Federal Government that the citizenship of Nigeria is not granted by Presidential fiat or mere registration.
The Federal Government had directed all foreigners in the country to register with the Nigerian Immigration Service within six months under the migrant e-registration programme of the agency.President Muhammadu Buhari, who gave the directive at the inauguration of the migrant e-registration and passport application processing centre at the NIS Headquarters, Abuja, had said any alien who failed to comply would be declared an illegal migrant.
The motive for tje registration, as explained by Buhari, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is to aid internal monitoring and integration while enhancing national security.
“It is on this note that I am declaring a six-month amnesty period for irregular migrants already in the country to submit themselves to the Nigeria Immigration Service for the purpose of this registration which will be carried out without any payment or penalties,” the president had stated, at the event.
It is ironical that Nigeria would be considering legalising the status of illegal immigrants, at a time the country is battling a metley of security challenges. As a matter of fact, illegal immigrants have been fingered in some of the security breaches. In 2018, President Buhari was reported to have said at a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, that killings in Nigeria were fuelled by gunmen from the Sahel region, who were trained by the late president of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, and later found their way into Nigeria.
What manner of government confers citizenship on illegal immigrants which the government itself, has fingered as being responsible for security breaches in parts of the country? The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, already specifies the procedure for naturalisation for those who desire citizenship of the country and conditions that must be met by the applicants, some of which are that the applicant must be of good character, show clear intention and desire to domicile in Nigeria, and ability to contribute to the economic development of Nigeria. We then ask if the immigrants have satisfied the conditions as specified. Even the ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of citizens in the member countries does not grant automatic citizenship to migrants. There are procedures that must be followed and there is nothing to show that these conditions have been met.
Why then has the government chosen to jettison those laws in favour of e-registration for the illegal immigrants? How do you confer citizenship of a nation on a people who have not sought such citizenship? What is the rationale of this policy at a time when Nigerians face all manner of harassment in Ghana, South Africa, USA and even Europe and the Middle East? These are some of the questions begging for answers.
But beyond the issue of the registration of illegal immigrants and conferment of citizenship status on them, the question of how the immigrants gain entry into the country, through our poorly manned borders remains unanswered. Nigeria, according to reports, has at least 1,400 illegal and unmanned borders. The country, in our view, should concern itself with securing its borders, not leaving them available for everyone to come in and then be granted a legal status thereafter.
Nigeria is already grappling with the challenge of exponential population growth without commensurate growth in infrastructure and services. To add this stock to the population, in our view, apart from the security challenge it poses, will double the pressure on existing infrastructure. We are of the view, therefore, that the government should discontinue this policy forthwith and send the illegal immigrants back to where ever they came from.
Time to Make Public Office Less Attractive
Now that the Supreme Court has duly affirmed the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Nigerians are eager to see the country move forward from its present state of uncertainty.
Democracy is about a social contract between the electorate and politicians, especially those entrusted to hold public offices.
It is becoming a fact in Nigeria, nay Africa that governance is rapidly taking a much wider meaning and no longer restricted to the rule of law where administrative codes are strictly adhered to.Instead, Nigerian politicians place little or no premium on what constitutes governance, let alone good governance.
Since political power is ultimately exercised by politicians, elected into public offices, it is expected they will comply with the laid down principles and governing templates, through which they will gauge the feelings, aspirations and desires of the electorate. Those feelings and desires will ultimately make them formulate policies and programmes viz: participation of citizens, upholding the rule of law, transparency and accountability, responsiveness of the authority, consensus oriented policy, equity and inclusiveness, and strategic vision of the authority, as the case may be.
But it remains to be seen whether the present government has demonstrated enough political will to follow these principles, given its eagerness to borrow and fund consumption and ostentatious lifestyle.
Politicians take advantage of the vulnerability and gullibility of Nigerians, in terms of poverty and ethno-religious sentiments, to buy and bully their way into office without anything to offer outside the propaganda that brought them in. They spend the next four to eight years politicking rather than concentrating on good governance. This is anathema to democratic norms and ethos.
With our debt currently standing at about N80 trillion; about 133 million Nigerians gripped by multidimensional poverty; unemployment rate almost 37% among other negative indices, it is time for the government -at all levels – to hit the ground running by reviewing the social contract between it (government) and the citizenry, majority of whom are trying to eke out a living.
This brings to the fore the need to make Public office less attractive for the corrupt and power mongers among us. The zerosome way we play the game of politics is as a result of the overnight accumulation of wealth and aggregation of power that comes with winning elections. This is why, the goal for most of those contesting for elective office is not service to the people but access to the national cake and personal ego. It is high time Nigeria made governance and government less attractive by strengthening our laws and statutes.
DAILY ASSET is of the view that restructuring our judicial system, empowering the Code of Conduct Bureau and reviewing our legal status in a way and manner that people who once occupy public office and are known to be living far above their cumulative income while in office must be made to account for such wealth. In this case, the onus of proof shall rest on the accused and not the accuser. If this is not done, fraudulent public servants and politicians who occupy public office will continue to exploit the system to their advantage.
November 11 Guber Elections: A Word of Caution
Political observers have expressed security concerns about the forthcoming off-season elections in the three states of Kogi, Bayelsa and Imo. The elections are slated for the coming Saturday, November 11th, 2023.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is expected to conduct the election in 10, 510 polling units spread across the three states.
In Bayelsa, the election will take place in 2,244 polling units, while it will hold in 3,508 polling units in Kogi; Imo has 4, 758 polling units where the election will be held.
INEC is said to be targeting about 5.4 million voters for the election – Bayelsa has 1.05 million voters; while 2.4 million voters are in Imo; Kogi has about two million voters.
The prolonged pre-election violent clashes and thuggery that have dogged the campaign are no doubt red flags to the crucial November elections. Therefore, all security agencies charged with the responsibility of organizing a successful exercise owe it a duty to rise to the occasion by being proactive before, during and after the elections. Anything other than that will be unacceptable.
Candidate Bola Tinubu during his presidential campaign had assured the electorate that he would end insecurity if elected president and that every inch of Nigeria’s national territory would be secured and defended.
“We will deal decisively with all elements threatening our peace, security and unity. I guarantee you we will end kidnapping and banditry not only through increasing our policing capacity but also through another soft approach that would promote inclusion and boost the economy of our local communities,” Tinubu said adding that “under my leadership, every inch of our national territory will be secured and defended,”
Unfortunately, six months after inauguration killers, kidnappers are still on the prowl. Nigerians are still being killed, villages are still being sacked by bandits, and kidnappers are still rampaging, while terrorists seem to be regrouping.
DAILY ASSET is hereby calling on the INEC and all critical stakeholders to rise to the occasion and do the needful. With the hues and cries from the last general elections due to the IREV glitch in uploading election results electronically, INEC now has a golden opportunity to regain its fading glory.
Furthermore, the electorate must begin to demand for a fair, free and hitch free election to demystify the troubling narrative surrounding the role of the judiciary in deciding the winner of election in the country.
A free and fair election entails that all contestants must be given a level playing field to compete without anyone enjoying any undue advantage over the other; a credible election must be an embodiment of transparency – a process where every vote counts.
Prosecute Culprits in Failed P&ID Contract
Nigeria started last week with a cheering news that she has saved herself from paying over $11 billion to a British Virgin Islands- based company, Process & Industrial Development (P&ID) Limited.
The company had dragged Nigeria to a London arbitration court for breach of contract and lack of due diligence in a contractual agreement.
Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi SAN, who broke the news stated that the judgement will serve as a deterrent for those seeking to swindle the country.
It all started in 2010 with a 20-year gas and supply processing agreement the company and the Nigerian government to build a gas processing facility in Cross River State.
The terms of the project covered, reduction of gas flaring to commercialise the gas industry, including the generation of electricity for Nigerians.
Part of the contract stipulated that the Nigerian government will supply natural gas via a pipeline to the P&ID plant in Calabar.
Other terms of the contract was that the company would process the gas and return a portion as fuel for the country’s power grid while keeping the rest as a byproduct for sale.
Specifically, Nigeria would receive 85 per cent of the non-associated gas for electrical generation and industrialisation at no cost. Also, Nigeria will have a 10 per cent stake in the production plant.
Disappointingly, the terms of the contract were complied with in breach by parties, prompting accusation and counter accusations.
P&ID on its part, accused the Nigerian government of failing to build a pipeline or securing a gas supply as stipulated in the agreement, forcing it to initiate an arbitration proceeding in a London court in 2012, claiming damages for the failed project and alleging breach of contract.
In 2015, Goodluck Jonathan agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $850m. However, in 2017, the company went back to court after realising that the Buhari government was not ready to keep to the out if court settlement.
Consequently, the London Court ordered Nigeria to pay P&ID damages, amounting to over $11 billion.
The Buhari government appealed the judgement by countering that the contract was corruptly awarded to P&ID which has no intention or capacity to undertake the project.
After years of legal battle, Nigeria has finally won the case. However, the case has exposed Nigeria’s lack of due diligence.
Though, Nigerians are celebrating the victory at this critical time that the nation’s economy is in dire stress, we should be very concerned about the failed project which could have been of immense benefit by boosting electricity generation and could have gone a long way in environmental protection.
The menace of gas flaring and attendant harm to environment is massive.
According to the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, Nigeria recorded a loss of over $22.9 billion to gas flaring from 2011 to 2021.
Similarly, the Nigerian Gas Flare Commercialisation Programme reported that Nigeria had lost potential revenue of over $1.1 billion in 2016 due to natural gas flaring.
Therefore, if the project had taken off and completed, electricity generation and supply to millions of Nigerians would have been achieved, thus pushing the frontiers of conducting businesses in Nigeria. Additionally, we could have moved a notch further to conserve and protect the environment.
DAILY ASSET is of the view that with the lessons learnt from the failed P&ID project, Nigeria must immediately embark on a similar one (but must tighten all the loose ends) to convert the wasteful flaring of natural gas to more productive and commercial use.
Most importantly, the federal government must prosecute all those involved in the failed contract, serving or retired, to account for their negligence or otherwise that had made the country to waste so much money in the process of litigation to secure the victory.
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