Connect with us

OPINION

We Cannot All be Capitalists

Published

on

Share

By Ibrahim Shelleng

Imagine Nigeria’s business landscape as a vibrant marketplace. Bustling stalls overflow with ideas, but everyone’s selling the same “hustle” brand. This brand is headquartered in the city of Lagos, Nigeria, where no body is welcomed but rather reminded that “This is Lagos!” and “Eko o ni baje!”, a colloquial phrase that loosely translates to Lagos will prevail.

Therefore, those that are caught in the hustle and bustle either by default or design, seemingly have no choice but to embrace its energy.

 Everybody must hustle! This has undoubtedly played a part in birthing some of the wealthiest individuals in Africa and has largely contributed to Lagos alone being amongst the top 10 largest economies in Africa but amidst such opulence lies an underbelly of abject poverty.

Kano, an ancient city in the Northern part of Nigeria, is also known for its hustle culture but rather than the cutthroat Lagos version, the hustle tends to be tempered by a combination of an ancient feudal system, intertwined with strong Shariah (Islamic) principles. Whilst it could be argued that this may limit the city’s potential for economic growth, it has potentially put a lid on a boiling pot of a city known for social unrest especially during economic downturns.

Therefore, the statement “We cannot all be capitalists” might sound counterintuitive in a world seemingly driven by market forces. But for a nation like Nigeria, with its complex social fabric and diverse needs, a singular focus on capitalism risks overlooking valuable alternatives that could unlock its true economic potential. Diversity is not just about culture and traditions; it extends to our economic perspectives too.

Imagine a world where everyone is a capitalist, chasing profits and bottom lines without considering the broader impact. That’s not a recipe for success; it’s a ticket to economic imbalance and inequality. While free markets undeniably fuel innovation and growth, embracing a broader spectrum of economic views can foster a more inclusive, sustainable, and ultimately stronger business environment. So, let’s shake things up a bit and explore how different economic views can contribute to a more robust and inclusive business environment in Nigeria.

Capitalism, undoubtedly, has been a driving force behind economic growth and entrepreneurship globally. In Nigeria, it has manifested in the form of ambitious startups, job creation, and an ethos of competition that propels industries forward. The pursuit of profit has led to innovation, efficiency, and a dynamic market. However, an economy dominated solely by capitalism can be a double-edged sword. It has presented the following challenges:

Widening Inequality:Unfettered capitalism, while generating wealth, often concentrates it in the hands of a few, exacerbating inequality, a significant concern in Nigeria. The Gini coefficient, a measure of income disparity, shows Nigeria ranking poorly, highlighting the need for alternative approaches that prioritize equitable distribution.

Neglecting Social Needs: The relentless pursuit of profit can overlook crucial social needs like healthcare, education, security and infrastructure. While private enterprises play a role, solely relying on them often leaves these areas underfunded, hindering human development and societal progress.

Environmental Degradation: The single-minded focus on maximising profit can lead to unsustainable practices, harming the environment. Nigeria faces deforestation, pollution, and climate change, demanding economic models that prioritise environmental well-being alongside economic growth.

The Socially Conscious Paradigm

This is where the value of exploring different economic views lies. By acknowledging the limitations of a single model, Nigeria can unlock a wider range of solutions that cater to its unique needs and aspirations. Here are some key alternative perspectives to consider:

Social Democracy: This model emphasises a strong role for government in providing social safety nets, ensuring equitable access to education and healthcare, and promoting fair labour practices. This can help address income inequality and create a more inclusive business environment where everyone has a chance to participate and contribute.

Cooperative Movement: Promoting cooperatives, where workers or communities own and manage businesses, can foster economic empowerment and shared prosperity. This model aligns with Nigeria’s existing communal values and can be particularly effective in rural areas where access to traditional capital might be limited.

Green Economy: Transitioning towards a green economy that prioritises sustainability and environmental protection can create new business opportunities while mitigating climate change risks. This involves investing in renewable energy, promoting eco-friendly practices, and ensuring responsible resource management.

Inclusive Capitalism: Recognising the need for social responsibility within the capitalist framework. This involves ethical business practices, fair wages, and investing in communities where businesses operate. This can help mitigate the negative aspects of unbridled capitalism and create a more sustainable business environment.

Benefits of a Pluralistic Approach

Embracing a diversity of economic views promises numerous benefits for Nigeria’s business environment:

Resilience in the Face of Challenges: Economic diversity acts as a shield against unforeseen challenges. In a world where uncertainties abound, having a mix of economic perspectives ensures that the nation is not overly reliant on one approach. A diverse economic portfolio fosters resilience, mitigating risks and providing stability in times of economic turbulence.

Inclusivity and Social Progress: Not everyone possesses the inclination or means to be a capitalist. By embracing diverse economic views, we create an inclusive environment where individuals with varied strengths and aspirations can contribute meaningfully. This inclusivity becomes a driving force for social progress, addressing disparities and empowering marginalised communities.

Catalyst for Innovation: Diversity is the cradle of innovation. Different economic views bring forth varied ideas and perspectives, creating a fertile ground for creativity. A harmonious blend of capitalism, social consciousness, and a mixed economy can spark innovation, positioning Nigeria as a frontrunner in the global marketplace.

Environmental Sustainability: Socially conscious businesses often prioritize sustainability, recognizing the interconnectedness of economic prosperity and environmental well-being. By incorporating these principles into the economic landscape, Nigeria can set a precedent for responsible growth that considers the long-term impact on the planet.

Global Competitiveness: A diverse economic landscape enhances global competitiveness. By showcasing a well-balanced approach, Nigeria becomes an attractive destination for international investments. The ability to adapt and integrate different economic perspectives positions the nation as a dynamic player on the global stage.

The Path Forward: A Unified Approach

Acknowledging the importance of economic diversity is only the first step. The path forward requires a concerted effort from all stakeholders – government, businesses, and citizens alike.

Governmental Policies and Regulations: The government plays a pivotal role in shaping the economic landscape. Crafting policies that encourage a balanced approach, fostering competition while safeguarding against exploitation, is paramount. Regulatory frameworks should incentivise socially conscious initiatives and provide a level playing field for businesses of all sizes. By this inference, the government cannot be fully capitalist.

Education and Awareness: Generating awareness among the general population is crucial. Understanding the benefits of economic diversity empowers citizens to make informed choices as consumers and entrepreneurs. Educational programs that highlight the importance of different economic perspectives can be instrumental in shaping a more economically literate society.

Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing: Businesses can lead the charge by embracing collaboration and knowledge sharing. Learning from the successes and challenges of different economic models allows for a more nuanced and informed approach. Networking and partnerships between capitalist, socially conscious, and mixed economy enterprises can lead to a more interconnected and resilient business ecosystem.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): Businesses, regardless of their economic philosophy, should integrate CSR into their core values. Contributing positively to the communities they operate in ensures a symbiotic relationship between business success and societal well-being. CSR initiatives can bridge the gap between profit-driven motives and social responsibility, creating a holistic business environment.

Continuous Adaptation: Economic landscapes are dynamic, and adaptability is key. Embracing economic diversity requires a commitment to continuous adaptation. Businesses and policymakers must be willing to evolve, incorporating the best elements from different economic perspectives to address the ever-changing needs of society.

Nigeria’s economic future is not predetermined. By acknowledging the limitations of a single model and embracing a wider spectrum of economic views, the nation can unlock its full potential and create a business environment that benefits all. This is not about abandoning capitalism entirely, but rather about recognizing its limitations and seeking complementary solutions that foster a more inclusive, sustainable, and equitable future for all Nigerians.

Shelleng is a business development consultant, chartered stockbroker (ACS) and an associate member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments (CISI) UK.

OPINION

Ending the Menace of Oil Theft in Niger Delta

Published

on

Share

By Braeyi Ekiye

Standing up for justice and vocally too, is about standing up for each other. It is our duty to speak for the nation’s lingering ills to be corrected, particularly when others cannot speak up. That is the critical power of the voice for the reconstruction of the Nigerian State to attain the desired real nationhood.

Former governor and now a senator representing Bayelsa West, Seriake Dickson recently stood up to be counted on a serious national issue; oil theft and its debilitating consequences on Nigeria’s economy and security.

Answering questions on a programme at Channels Television recently, Dickson pointedly accused some very important personalities from Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja for being behind oil theft in the Niger Delta.

Hear the Senator:” The Official system and oil companies are beneficiaries of oil theft in the Niger Delta”. Dickson bemoaned the absence of national values which he said, makes people to use the nation’s resources for selfish gains.

“People from Abuja and Lagos are the masterminds and the official system is not ignorant and not innocent. The official security system, the official oil system, the official federal system, all of it in its entirety. It’s a powerful system,” he stated.

Dickson wondered why a country like Nigeria that has been producing oil, exporting oil for the past 70 years was unable to have scientific way of metering, recording what leaves, what is pumped, what is sold and what is not sold? He concluded that it was a deliberate attempt at bleeding the country of her financial and economic wealth through illegal bunkering, superintended by local, national and international oil theft collaborators.

It is instructive that the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), had in November 6, 2023, through its Executive Secretary, Ogbonnaya Orji, said that oil theft was an emergency that posed serious threat to oil exploration and exploitation with huge negative consequences on economic growth, business projects and profit earnings by oil companies.

Orji stated that as a result of NEITI being a member of the “Special Investigative Panel on Oil Theft and Losses”, the organisation was aware that: “Oil theft is perpetrated mainly through pipeline clamping, illegal connections and major pipeline exploitation of abandoned oil well heads, pipeline breakages and vandalism of key national assets to illegally siphon crude into waiting vessels stationed in strategic terminals”.

NEITI maintained that it was a matter of fact that many members of the pipeline’s association were directly and indirectly involved in providing the skills and knowledge required to carry out oil theft.

Orji therefore, condemned the association for failing to put in place stringent regulations and appropriate sanctions to check involvement of their members.

While being hopeful that President Bola Tinubu’s leadership would spring a surprise to douse the fears, the apprehensions of critical Nigerian minds, like Senator Dickson, Ogbonnaya and many others, there is the compelling need for this administration to seriously interrogate this malignant ulcer on the nation’s oil industry. There is also the need to critically examine NEITI’s unsolicited solutions to the problems of oil theft that have held Nigeria’s economy prostrate and her developmental framework for accelerated growth in all facets stunted.

NEITI in a report titled: “Nigeria’s Battle With Crude Oil Theft: A Total of 4,145 Cases Since May 2023,” published by Arise News on November 23, 2023, revealed a staggering number of highlights of the severity of the issue at hand.

Also, in its weekly: “Energy & You” series aired on the NTA News Network, the NNPCL noted in Episode 7 that 344 crude oil theft incidents were recorded between January and April 2023. Meanwhile, by Episode 8 of the weekly NTA television series, NNPCL shared reports of crude oil theft incidents. A summation of crude oil theft incidents recorded between episode 8 (May 2023) and episode 30 (October 2023), revealed that a total of 4,145 crude oil theft incidents were recorded between May 2023 and the second week of October 2023.

According to NNPCL records, some of the more active hotspots for crude oil theft in the Niger Delta include; Ohaji-Egbema, Oguta (Imo), Ogbia, Imiringi (Bayelsa), Obodo-Omadino, Ughelli (Delta), and Egorobiri creek, Gokana, Iba community, Emuoha, Rumuji, Degema (Rivers).

Nuhu Ribadu, the National Security Adviser, had revealed in August 2023, that: “the country was losing 400,000 barrels of oil per day to crude oil thieves”. This led to commentators insisting that the persistence of crude oil theft in Nigeria lays bare the deep-rooted issues of corruption and severity of vulnerabilities in the country.

That, Nigeria lost more than ₦4.3 trillion naira to oil theft in five years, stolen in 7,143 pipeline vandalism cases is not news. NEITI had revealed this startling loss at the Nigeria Interventional Security Conference in Abuja, with the theme: “Bolstering Regulations, Technology and Security for Growth”, way back in November 2023. The conference was organised by the Pipeline Professionals Association of Nigeria. In a presentation at the conference, NEITI, the federal government agency, revealed that oil theft and losses in Nigeria have become a national emergency, and shall I say, a monumental embarrassment to the country.

Recently, Senator Munir Nwoko, representing Aniocha/Oshimili Senatorial Constituency shed more light on this disturbing matter. Nwoko said that certain security officials whose primary duty is to safeguard oil and gas assets, are actually complicit in this illegal trade. “They are driven by the financial gains associated with illegal activities”, the distinguished senator said.

The crude oil theft network encompasses a broad spectrum of individuals and groups as Senator Dickson rightly pointed out at the Channels TV interview and corroborated by NEITI. It involves foreign oil traders, shippers, bankers, refiners, top-ranking politicians and even military officials.

Providing data from the agency’s reports to back his claims, NEITI’s Orji, said: “NEITI in the last five years, 2017-2021, has found that Nigeria recorded 7,143 cases of pipeline breakages and deliberate pipeline vandalism resulting in crude theft and product losses of 208.639 million barrels valued at $12.74m or N4.325 trillion. NEITI reports also disclosed that during the same period, Nigeria spent ₦471.493 billion to either through repairs or maintenance of pipelines.

The criminal exploits, NEITI said, takes place, ‘most times in atmosphere of communities’ complicity and conspiracy of silence. This, therefore, calls for the Tinubu administration to swiftly swing into action to put an end to this dastardly act, or at least, reduce it to the barest minimum. After all, the state security agencies for effecting a quick resolution of this matter are at the president’s beck and call.

It would also be recalled that NEITI released empirical data of oil theft and losses way back 2009 and 2020 to the staggering figure of 619.7 million barrels of crude, valued at $46.16 billion or ₦16.25 trillion. In addition, Nigeria lost 4.2 billion litres of petroleum products from refineries, valued at $1.84 billion at the rate of 140, 000 barrels per day, from 2009 to 2018. Thus, the total value of crude losses between 2009 and 2020 is higher than the size of the country’s reserves and almost 10 times Nigeria’s oil savings in Excess Crude Account, NEITI said.

So, how long shall Nigeria continue to condone these criminal activities? The country’s inability to proffer answers to these questions will continue to keep Nigeria in a state of coma in her overall developmental strides, including her peace, unity and security.

 Ekiye writes from Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Continue Reading

OPINION

NIN-SIM Linkage and the Nigeria We Desire

Published

on

Share

By Tunde Akanni

Rights and responsibilities are the twin words that best describe the inception and the increasing impact of digital technology, a major strand of which is the dynamic contemporary telecommunication services.  Even before the imminent(?) internet of things (IOT),  a lot is playing out  for human civilisational process throwing up existential challenges for citizens and duly requiring governmental interventions to cope with.

If only to safeguard innocent citizens from the antics of criminals, government is often quick at fashioning laws and penalties for violations.

The most far reaching legal intervention in this context is the Cybercrimes Prohibitions Act of 2015 with its most significant component being the Cybercrime Advisory Council.
  Incidentally, this Council is considered rather exclusionary by media and allied rights advocates.

The said deficit of the Cybercrime Advisory Council is a pointer to the fact that in climes such as ours, not much attention is often given by government to social needs, specifically in this case, Media and Information Literacy, MIL, already over hyped by the informed stakeholders. Unfortunately, some undiscerning members of the society keep falling falling victim of related laws.

Please follow this pathetic story, the audio of which I keep till date: Muhammad is a private school principal at Nyanya, an Abuja, suburb. As a side hustle, he runs a Point of Service (POS) business for payment.  Then came a criminal one day who had just robbed and killed his victim. Using his victim’s card, he requested two transfers of N500,000 each.

The criminal made several other purchases and also went to some other operators of POS.  Eventually he was found out and law enforcers had to track all transactions he had carried out with the victim’s card. Muhammad of Nyanya thus became a suspect and was promptly arrested. Thus began endless investigations… Muhammed ended up being detained for months in a prison.

You can imagine the psychological torture not only for Muhammad but his immediate family, employers and others who love him. He learnt his lesson in the bitterest way yet his ordeals could have been averted by sufficient exposure to basics of MIL. But life goes on. Indeed, it must be business as usual

Otherwise how do we explain the cacophony playing out after the expiration of the deadline of 29 March for NIN-SIM linkage? The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has confirmed that it would not be reviewing its deadline to bar owners of more than four SIM cards whose SIM registration data failed to match their National Identity Number (NIN) data.

The Commission explained that its position was hinged on its objective to clean the country’s SIM ownership database, and ensure that criminals could not take advantage of having multiple unlinked SIMs to carry out their nefarious activities.  The Commission’s resolve is hinged on the need to close in on the chaos of untoward ownership of multiple SIM cards with unverified NIN details. According to the  Commission “we have instances where a single individual has over 10,000 lines linked to his NIN. In some cases, we have seen a single person with 1,000 lines, some 3,000 plus lines. What are they doing with these lines?

The NCC has also provided Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) an extension till 31 July within which they are expected to verify all NINs submitted by subscribers with four or less SIMs, as well as bar those whose NIN fail verification with NIMC.

The Chairman of Association of  Licensed Telecommunication Operators, Gbenga Adebayo, further confirmed that members of his association would comply.

However, just the next day or so after the deadline expired, yours sincerely sighted no fewer than three reports announcing the extension of the deadline, one of them stating specifically to 31 July, referring to some reliable inside source.

What’s all the fuss about really? This NIN-SIM linkage is a simple exercise that only requires a subscriber to submit his or her NIN to the service provider to enable the service provider match details of the subscriber taken at the time of initial SIM registration process. This could be done through assorted windows including physically by visiting designated points. For techno-literate persons, they are merely expected to use short, universal codes for both submission and retrieval for those who may want to verify their own compliance as the media kept repeating deadlines.

The reality today is that barely literate persons and even illiterates now use telephones given its increasing centrality to a lot of human activities.  This is the basis of this writer’s advocacy for an earlier generalist nomenclatural label suggestion of “Digital Culture” in place of “Digital Economy” preferred by Minister Ali Pantami when he chose to rename the ministry he was asked to superintend over (https://www.thecable.ng/digital-culture-or-digital-economy)

Telecommunication industry players have been unequivocal about the key benefit of NIN-SIM linkage being the protection of subscribers and prevention of crimes such as exemplified above. For instance, on account of the huge amount involved, the POS operators may have documented details of whatever identity provided by the criminal. As a matter of fact, the truth may have been readily revealed in the course of such documentation. But the information literacy knowledge could only have been deployed based on certain pre-existing conditions such as NIN-SIM linkage offers an example.

Still on crime, another major advantage that may derive from the NIN-SIM linkage is the  ease with which law enforcers may trace and tackle criminals through their registered lines. Afterall, no one may be allowed to own any line except you are ready to play by the set rules.

Furthermore, this linkage thing will automatically ease economic  transactions  electronically since identities will be easily verifiable for concerned parties such as it pans out with regards to debit cards and similar devices.  NIN-SIM linkage is therefore the way to go and the exercise has to run with a good measure of discipline especially with existing spectacular anomalies of thousands SIMs connected to some individual.

At this stage, the campaigns executed so far need be audited to make for genuine inclusivity with regards to social, geographical and other possible lines. For instance, this task now requires a well designed stakeholder mapping. The mapping must ultimately reveal spots of irregularities and areas as well as interests deserving more attention.

Given that all media genres had been previously deployed perhaps for conventional announcements, how about aligning subsequent dissemination more enriched via regular media contents? How about being more scientific, relativizing media use depending on audience preference and possible perception? In reality this could translate to devolving dissemination more to the grassroots by enlisting the emerging broadcasters namely, community broadcasters and campus broadcasters.

Beyond liberalising the media to be used, campaigns must also be made to align with credible programmes with obvious trendy touch of management such as may ensure their global reach and enduring availability as may be made possible by platforms like Youtube and Spotify.

With affiliation to champions of multi-stakeholder philosophy like the UN’s annual Internet Governance Forum, IGF, for the management of telecommunication facilities, need NCC be reminded of the importance of democratised governance culture?

It is most certain that the involvement of the relatively cheaper (not necessarily technologically inferior) community and campus broadcasters will help to boost the NIN-SIM linkage campaigns and indeed others that may arise in future.

It will as not be out of place  for NCC to support the campaigns for the popularization of Media and Information Literacy. This certainly will help to resolve a lot of digital divide inspired issues

With the concern demonstrated on this exercise so far, NCC has demonstrated that it now has an improved corporate governance culture as advocated by IGF (https://punchng.com/nigerias-communication-governance-indifference/ ). It can however do better and even excel.

Akanni is an associate professor of media and development  at the Lagos State University. Follow him on X via @AkintundeAkanni

Continue Reading

OPINION

The Lessons of Okuama Tragedy

Published

on

Share

By Michael Owhoko

Has Nigeria learnt any lessons from the Okuama massacre? Will the incident repeat itself or offer profound lessons against a future experience? In the journey of life, no individual or nation or country is immune from occurrences thrown up by circumstance, which may be pleasant or painful.

Lessons from such experiences are deployed to prevent possible future reoccurrence, failing which the same catastrophe would repeat itself.

In context, the gruesome murder of army officers at Okuama in Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, which transcends ethnic emotions and was accompanied by wide condemnations, is a confirmation that Nigeria has not, and does not learn from lessons, otherwise the calamity would have been avoided.

The incident was not the first of its type. It had happened previously at Odi, Bayelsa State; Zaki Biam, Benue State; and Gbaramatu, Delta State, yet it appeared that neither the Federal Government nor the Nigerian Army learnt any lessons from the earlier occurrences. This is evident from the Okuama saga, a proof of the country’s insensitivity to bloodshed and exposition of poverty in the policy making process.

This notwithstanding, the Okuama calamity has again thrown up another opportunity for lessons to be learnt. If Nigeria fails again, this time around, to learn from these happenings, then the country risks further carnage, which may possibly take a more complex form, with unmanageable and unpredictable consequences. It may be too costly for the country’s fledgling socio-economic balance and stability.

Therefore, the lessons are crucial and should be identified by government, to be harnessed as feedback for proactive purposes, to forestall future recurrence. It is a tragedy for any country with a relapsing experience, not to have a codified strategy encapsulated in a template to resolve related matters. In specific terms, what then are the lessons and takeaways from the Okuama disaster?

Lesson One: To have allowed a land dispute over fishing rights between Okuama and neighbouring Okoloba communities in Bomadi Local Government Area, Delta State, to escalate means there were no proactive measures and prompt concerted interventions by the Nigeria Police Force and Delta State Government, in response to petitions written by the Okuama community.

The community, through its lawyers, I. Ejedegba and Co., had written a petition to the Commissioner of Police in Asaba, Delta State, which was acknowledged on 31 January, while that written by the community’s leaders to the Delta State Governor was received on 2 February. This was over one month before the gruesome murder of the military officers on 14 March.

Since the Police is the first line of contact and statutorily responsible for civil security matters, they should have waded in upon receipt of the petition, to nip the crisis in the bud, aside the previous joint meetings held among the communities, the Police and the Delta State Government that yielded no solution. Under this development, the Delta State Governor should have been advised to wield the big stick by acquiring the land in contention for public interest, to end the crisis.

Lesson Two: Inviting the Army for a mediatory and peace mission to Okuama for the resolution of a land dispute between two communities that were not at war, was an error in judgement. The dispute was civil in nature, and it was only when the efforts by the Police and the Delta State Governor had failed, and there was evidence of likely escalation into a dangerous dimension beyond the capacity of the Police, that would have warranted the intervention of the Nigerian Army. It is not the responsibility of the Army to broker peace in a civil matter.

Lesson Three: Central to the killing of the military personnel in Okuama is presumably oil. Oil appeared to be the underpinning motive behind the horrendous and senseless killings. Mere land dispute between two communities could not have led to such a mindless massacre. Soldiers are deployed to the Niger Delta region to protect oil facilities, and in the course of this duty, they might have been marked as “enemy” by those profiteering from illegal oil deals.

Those involved in crude oil theft and other illegal activities, including the processing of locally refined products, might see the Army as an obstacle to their business interests. The military high command should have known this, and prepared the soldiers for any possible eventuality and collision with entrenched oil thieves.

The circumstances of their deaths showed that the military men were taken unawares. It was likely that crude oil thieves and other vested interests might have planned and taken advantage of the soldiers’ peaceful disposition to unleash mayhem on them in such a horrific and despicable manner.

Lesson Four: The mass destruction of Okuama by the Army in response to the death of the soldiers, without singling out the culprits, was unhelpful, as innocent children, mothers, the elderly, the sick and even pregnant women, were either killed, rendered homeless or died while trying to escape.

To bring pain on an entire community over the action of a few criminals, is indefensible. Reprisal attacks and collective punishments are incompatible with international law.

It should be recalled that after the destruction of Odi by the Army, the community resorted to litigation and got a favourable judgement, leading to the payment of a N15 billion out-of-court settlement as compensation. Justice Lambi Akanbi of the Federal High Court had condemned the government for a “brazen violation of the fundamental human rights of the victims to movement, life and to own property and live peacefully in their ancestral home.”

Since the Okuama experience is reminiscent of the destruction in Odi, it is likely Okuama may seek redress in the law court for compensation over the reprisal destruction of lives and properties.

Lesson Five: As the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria, Bola Tinubu’s order to the Army was too hasty and reactionary, without taking into consideration innocent lives in Okuama that were caught up in the web. Granting “full authority” to the military to bring anybody found to have been responsible for the attack to justice was an obvious blanket licence for the military to invade Okuama.

Instead, the President should have ordered the security agencies and the Police to specifically intervene, identify and arrest the criminal elements in the community, while instituting an independent high-powered panel of enquiry to unravel the causes of the mayhem. A future restraint on the part of the President is imperative to douse tension and minimise further collateral damage.

Lesson Six: The Army’s decision to lock down and lay siege to Okuama without granting access to the Delta State Governor, the Police, humanitarian agencies, and even the press to assess the situation on ground, has given rise to speculations about the plight of the members of the community, particularly the innocent, helpless and indigent persons. This is unhelpful to the image of the Army.

By not allowing access, the Army has unwittingly opened its operations to speculations. For example, it was alleged that the Army killed over 5O persons in Okuama, with other survivors hiding in the bush, including old women, children, the elderly ones and even the sick, with no food to eat or water to drink. This is a gross violation of their fundamental human rights.

To avoid being put on the spotlight, it is imperative for the military to grant access into the community to enable humanitarian agencies and volunteer groups extend help and assistance to the innocent ones, to prevent further fatalities. This will also serve the interest of the Army’s reputation.

Lesson Seven: After the destruction of Odi, initial public sympathy for the military waned. The same is replicating itself in Okuama over the conduct of the Army. The Army, like other Federal Government agencies, is not a supreme institution that is above the Constitution and the Nigerian State, neither is civilian population subject to military laws.

Indeed, the Army is subject to civil authority under a democracy. Therefore, it must change its current tactics at Okuama, where it has refused access to the community, assumed being the sole information provider on goings-on, and subjected civilians to investigation, arrest and detention.

It is hoped that these lessons will serve as reference and guide for the state governments, the Police, the Army and the federal government in the handling of related crises to avert future disasters.

Owhoko, a Lagos-based public policy analyst, author, and journalist, can be reached at www.mikeowhoko.com, and followed on X (formerly Twitter) @michaelowhoko.

Continue Reading

Read Our ePaper

Top Stories

NEWS6 mins ago

I-G visits Ogun, Approves Area Commands for Ifo, Imeko, Idi-Iroko

ShareThe Inspector General of Police (I-G), Kayode Egbetokun, on Tuesday, began a three-day working visit to Ogun, with an approval...

NEWS11 mins ago

Abia Govt. Declares War Against Indiscipline, Task Force Enters Streets

Share The Abia State Harmonized Task Force (ASHTF), Aba Zone, on Tuesday began the enforcement of the law against street...

Economy30 mins ago

Seplat Energy Pays $2bn Tax to FG in 10 Years

ShareSeplat Energy, an independent indigenous energy company, on Tuesday, said it had paid two billion dollars tax contribution to the...

NEWS35 mins ago

Naira Appreciation: FCCPC Intensifies Enforcements to Discourage Unfair Price Hike

Share The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it will intensify monitoring and enforcement in formal and informal...

DEFENCE40 mins ago

Police Arrest Enugu Resident with Fake Naira Notes

ShareThe Police Command in Enugu State has arrested an Enugu resident, one Mmaduabuchi Okonkwo, 24, suspected to be in possession...

NEWS43 mins ago

Lagos to Extend Blue Rail Line to Agbara in Ogun  

ShareThe Lagos State Government is currently in discussions with the Ogun government to extend the Blue Rail Line further down...

POLITICS47 mins ago

We Shall Return to Aso Villa in 2027 – PDP Reps Caucus Says

Share The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the House of Represebtatives says it must regain the presidency it lost...

DEFENCE50 mins ago

NSCDC Official Calls for Increased Vigilance to Enhance Security

ShareUmar Mohammed, the Kwara Commandant of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), on Tuesday in Ibadan called for an...

SPORTS53 mins ago

Mbappe says Winning Champions League Matter of Pride

Share Paris St Germain’s Kylian Mbappe has said that helping his hometown club to finally win their first Champions League...

NEWS57 mins ago

Mbah Charges FRSC on Safer Roads, Stricter Compliance with Traffic Laws

ShareFrom Sylvia Udegbunam, EnuguEnugu State’s commitment to safer roads and enhanced traffic compliance received a significant boost as Governor Peter...

Copyright © 2021 Daily Asset Limited | Powered by ObajeSoft Inc