Dora Akunyili's Memo to o the Federal Executive Council (FEC)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The memo  presented to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) yesterday by Information Minister Dora Akunyili asking Yar’Adua to present a letter of vacation to the Senate as required by section 145 of Nigeria’s 1999 constitution. The full text of the memo below:

1. I want to start my humble submission by stating that I am a 100 per cent loyalist of President Yar’Adua. He appointed all of us because he trusts us and wants us to help him to run government effectively and efficiently. Mr. President has given all of us seated in this chamber the opportunity to serve our nation as members of this council.

I believe that in the choice of all of us, as individuals and group, Mr. President must have considered our ability to guide him aright to serve our people better, promote and protect the constitution in line with the oath of office taken before him in this chamber by each and every one of us. President Yar’Adua is very dear to me just as he is to all of you.

2. We are all aware of what has been happening in Nigeria, especially as it concerns the issue of making the Vice President an acting President. There have been debates for and against. 

3. Some have argued that there is no vacuum and that it is okay for the Vice President to function as Vice President, not as Acting President pending the return and recovery of Mr. President. For the proponents of this theory, I want to remind them that Permanent Secretaries had been waiting to be sworn in for over two months now. Consequently, many ministries are without Permanent Secretaries including my ministry.

As it is today, the Vice President cannot take any document to National Assembly. In a very desperate situation like the recent Jos crisis, the Vice President deployed troops to Plateau, but many have openly said that he does not have the right because there cannot be two Commanders-in-Chief at a time.

4. Just recently, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta, MEND, has opted out of the amnesty and resumed hostility. They argued that they have been kept in limbo since the President took ill and they appeared to have been abandoned since nobody could talk to them or keep the promise made to them. Our economy is once more being threatened.

5. The past Chief Justice of the Federation swore in his successor for the first time in the history of our nation. The power vacuum at that level has also compounded our ‘poor image’ at the international level because of our failure to rise to international expectations, commitments and engagements that require the presence of our President.

Many of those opportunities have existed in the past 70 days that I do not need to recount. I do not need to repeat the uncomplimentary statements made by United States, United Kingdom and EU concerning the current state of affairs in Nigeria .

6. There has been persistent agitation by the public for members of the Federal Executive Council to do something. Nigerians expect us to rise to this challenge on behalf of our President as the leader of this administration. Some eminent citizens have spoken. They include former Heads of State and others who have served our nation in various capacities.

The Senate has also taken a position of which we are all aware. The looming crisis in the system is over boiling. Our hard earned democracy is being threatened by the day.

7. What went wrong? We love our President but we should remember that he is not infallible. Before he left Nigeria he had a moral and constitutional obligation to officially inform the Senate and hand over the mantle of leadership to the Vice President pending his return and recovery. That did not happen. Yes, the mistake has been made by our Boss and our brother.

Mr. President is ill and did not choose to be sick. But while we continue to pray for his recovery, we should try to right the wrong.

8. Some have argued that he left the country in a hurry. This argument has been punctured by the fact that he signed the Appropriation Bill for National Assembly. If he could sign the Bill, why did he not sign a letter for Vice President to act on his behalf until he is well enough?

9. We have a local proverb that says that “A goat does not get strangulated by the rope used in tying it when an adult is present.” We are all in a better position to know that the polity is overheated to a frightening level. Posterity will judge us harshly if we do not positively intervene to resolve this logjam.

10. I wish to call on the Federal Executive Council to act now in the best interest of our dear President and our dear Nation.

We also need to save ourselves from shame because our stand is becoming very embarrassing. He has been away for about 70 days now, even if he returns tomorrow, is it not better for him to rest and recover before taking over from the Vice President?

11. We need to do what is morally right and constitutional for the President to officially hand over to the Vice President to function as Acting President. If he does not, we can evoke whichever aspect of the constitution that should make the Vice President an Acting President.

On the other hand we can take advantage of the 14 days ultimatum by the court which will expire on Friday. When the President resumes duty as soon as he recovers, by the grace of God, he takes over his position.

12. I am not saying that President Yar’Adua should resign or condemn him for being sick. He did not choose to be sick. We will continue to pray for him, but all I am saying is, let us encourage him do the right thing so that our hard earned democracy will not be truncated. Anybody who feels otherwise is unfair to our President (who has been preaching the rule of law), and utterly unfair to our country.

13. The name of our President and all his achievements are being rubbished by this unfortunate debacle. The President and his family are also being put under undue pressure which will not help his recovery.

14. If we fail to act now, history will not forgive us. I rest my case.

Source: Saharareporters

Thank you, Dora by By Reuben Abati

DORA Akunyili, Nigeria's Minister of Information and Communications, is obviously the only man in the Executive Council of the Federation, the others have lost their spine and submitted to the tightly knit conspiracy spun by that body and its faceless accomplices in deceiving Nigerians 74 days on, that President Umaru Musa Yar'├ždua is fit. Akunyili thoroughly fed up with all the fibbing and shilly-shallying reportedly submitted a memo to the Executive Council this week asking that the deception must stop and that President Yar'Adua must hand over to the Vice President so the country can move on in his absence.
Thank you, Dora. You have just confirmed what we have always known that the members of the Executive Council of the Federation who are required under Section 144 of the Constitution to take a decision as to the incapacitation of the President are not likely to do so, first because they are his appointees (the law givers apparently overlooked this, in the future this section should be amended); second, the lying Ministers are more interested in protecting their seats rather the common good and three, they want to be seen to be loyal to the President. And so before now, they had issued a statement saying that President Yar'Adua is well, some claimed to have spoken with him as if that amounts to a certificate of medical fitness, and shamelessly that body, with the help of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, chose to misinterpret the law and make short-shrift of a court ruling.

It was a case of Federal Ministers, maintained at public expense, insisting on doing what is wrong. Every week, they pretended to be holding a Cabinet meeting, with a vacant seat and an absent President as Chairman, the emptiness of that space gradually becoming a metaphor for other observed patterns of emptiness, and at each meeting they further pretended to be awarding contracts, under the authority of a Vice President who had left no one in any doubt that he has no powers to sign documents or give directives. Dora Akunyili must have been frustrated by the charade. As an insider, she must have witnessed the drift first hand, the posturing of a few and the helplessness of a Federal Cabinet that is supposed to serve the people, now bogged down by a self-inflicted illness, engaged in nothing else but "little chats".

Surely, it was not only Yar'├ždua that was in hospital, the Federal Executive Council as they call it, was also ill. Everyone had issued a statement, including elder statesmen, the Arewa Consultative Forum, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, media chiefs, civil society groups, professional associations, members of the National Assembly, asking President Yar'Adua to respect the rule of law. With the Arewa joining the campaign and the likes of former President Shehu Shagari joining a delegation to Aso Villa on the same matter, there was no way anyone could fly the flag of ethnic persecution; for the first time in a long while, the Nigerian elite managed, albeit slowly, to forge a consensus on a matter of national importance. Yet, Yar'Adua's cabinet preferred a macabre dance.

Dora Akunyili's rebellion and forthrightness is the kind of development that we need for this matter to be resolved. Ironically, she is such an unusual rebel. She is paid to help the government and the President cover up their dirt. As Minister of Information, she is the government's spin doctor. Before now, she had in fact made an effort to help cover up the mess, telling Nigerians that the President's health was improving and that we should find something else to talk about. But it must have occurred to the lady that there is no way Nigeria can be rebranded, the campaign she leads, if its leaders tell lies and engage in deceits. The slogan "great nation, good people" makes no sense if so much energy has to be expended to get Nigerian leaders to act properly in the public interest. She must have gotten tired of being told by a few who claim to have seen the President to go and sell a fib to the people. Dora is a Christian. The Archbishop must be glad about her conversion on the road to Damascus.

Is this something about women? There were stories during the Obasanjo years about Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Federal Minister, being one of the very few who could stand up at meetings and tell the all-knowing OBJ the truth. But the parallel that immediately comes to mind is Clare Short, the former Secretary of State for International Development in the Tony Blair UK Government who accussed then Prime Minister Blair of "recklessness" in his pursuit of the war against Iraq. Short has quite a reputation for going against the grain within the Labour Party. Similarly, Dora Akunyili's offensive against drug dealers and importers of fake drugs while she held sway at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) was more or less an act of rebellion: the drug cartel is populated by persons who are likely to donate money to politicians and who lay claim to substantial influence. Death threats did not deter Dora at the time.

Her appointment as Information Minister had raised doubts about her role in the present government, but she seems to have found her voice again. Clare Short, testifying at the on-going Iraqi war enquiry, the Chilcot Committee, continues to insist that Tony Blair lied to Cabinet about Iraq. Short used the words: "Misleading", "conning", "being deceitful". These are words that can be adapted and fitted into the current Nigerian situation. Nigeria is not going to war but it is preparing a war against itself at home. When other Ministers in the Blair Cabinet behaved as yes-men on the Iraqi question, Ms Short spoke up. Will Dora Akunyili stand firm? She should. Should she resign her appointment? I don't think so.

She has not committed treachery nor is she carrying a banner for regicide. Party chieftains may condemn her, many of her colleagues in the Federal cabinet may accuse her of grandstanding, "trying to be holier than thou", who does she think she is? "don't mind her, she is always looking for publicity?", "what's wrong with her, she caused the problem in the first place, if she had managed information well, we would not be in this mess;" "she has joined forces with enemies of government"- these are typical Nigerian responses which always beg the issue. But the only thing she has said is: please, let us obey the law. She also added: "It doesn't pay anybody the way the coutnry is drifting." But her colleagues wouldn't even look at her memo. They shot it down.
There may well be a few persons in the Federal cabinet who feel the same way as she does, but lack the courage to speak up. They should not hide behind Dora Akunyili's skirt. She has shown them that it is alright to say one's mind. Such persons should gather whatever is left in their hearts and say what is right, with the hope that the right things will be done. Party chieftains will most likely put pressure on Dora Akunyili and accuse her of disloyalty. If that happens, she must resist the temptation to recant. It's alright to stand alone.

Where are we as a nation, 74 days after our President checked into a hospital in Saudi Arabia? Things appear to be coming to a head. The world is laughing at us. It has been reported, for example, that at an ongoing conference in Cape Town, South Africa, the Mining Indaba Conference, one of the speakers, David Hale dragged Nigeria's story into his presentation telling his audience: "In Nigeria, the President has been in Saudi Arabia for nearly three months for medical treatment and he refused to hand over to the Vice President, even though the people are calling for it. He is suffering from acute heart problems and should be dead in six months. So, in Nigeria, there should be a new election in six months after the death of the President." The Nigerian delegation to that conference is demanding an apology. The Punch reports, February 4, that "The remarks by Hale who is the chairman of David Hale Global Economics surprisingly elicited loud laughter from the participants..." Loud laughter? Why won't the rest of the world find our circumstances funny?

Look at the rigmarole over a letter that the President was supposed to have written. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) says he prepared such a letter to be taken to the National Assembly in compliance with Section 145 of the Constitution. The letter was handed over to Senator Mohammed Abba Ajji, the Special Adviser to the President on National Assembly Matters. And that same letter is now being treated like a pin in a haystack. The SGF cannot find it. He doesn't have a file copy? And what kind of man is the Special Adviser who will not know what happened to a letter given to him? A special meeting is to be held at the official residence of the Senate President to discuss this missing letter! Nothing can be more uproarious.

Unwittingly, the Yar'Adua government has turned the matter of the President's health into another June 12 or Third Term issue, two previous national issues on which every Nigerian felt obliged to take a stand. With more persons and groups taking a stand on the Yar'Adua health issue, it won't be long before the uncertainty is resolved.

Jordan Miles brutalized by Pittsburgh Uncover Police Officers

Monday, February 1, 2010

On the night of January 11, Jordan Miles, an 18-year-old violinist and honor student at Pittsburgh’s prestigious Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) high school, was allegedly beaten by three undercover Pittsburgh Police officers. Miles was reportedly en route to his grandmother’s house at the time, though he never reached his destination.

According to the police criminal complaint, three officers on undercover patrol in Homewood — Richard Ewing, Michael Saldutte and David Sisak — spied Mr. Miles at 11 p.m. Jan. 11 by a house on Tioga Street. Seeing a heavy object in his coat, they identified themselves as police and ordered him to stop.

Mr. Miles ran and the officers shot him with a Taser and struck him several times during a struggle. The complaint says with “Miles’s having assaulted two police officers, believing that he was armed, unable to handcuff him, and Miles not following any commands, [Officers Saldutte and Ewing] began to deliver knee strikes to both sides of Miles’s body in an attempt to get his hands behind his back … At this point Ofc. Sisak delivered 2-3 closed fist strikes to Miles’ head/face with still no effect.”

The complaint said the heavy object in his coat turned out to be a bottle of Mountain Dew. (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Jordan Miles said the police pfficers beat him and tore off dreadlock. The three white officers who arrested him have been reassigned.

“I feel that my son was racially profiled,” Terez Miles said. “It’s a rough neighborhood; it was after dark. … They assumed he was up to no good because he’s black. My son, he knows nothing about the streets at all. He’s had a very sheltered life, he’s very quiet, he doesn’t know police officers sit in cars and stalk people like that.”

Miles’ family describes him as a studious teenager who plays the viola for a jazz band and the orchestra at Pittsburgh’s prestigious Creative and Performing Arts High School.

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