After America’s 2016 election trumped

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What has become clear, after America’s 2016 election, is that the majority are incapable of making logical decisions and therefore rendering the concept of democracy futile.

All across the board we have people voting with emotions not logic, fear instead of reason, identity politics instead of policy and morality. Popularity instead of conscience. Herd mentality instead of individual assessment.

So who can you blame for this outcome?

The system itself of course. But also know that people all across the board on all sides are to blame, for I have seen the regressive behaviors with my own eyes.

Democracy becomes rather pointless when the masses tasked with election are uneducated. Democracy fails when it is representative instead of direct because the representatives fall to bribery. Democracy is an illusion when the masses are manipulated to vote for a party by the popular media and corporate brainwashing tactics.

Our system, our culture and our people are very broken and it will not be fixed any time soon.

Whistleblower protection needed for anti-corruption fight

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According to Wikipedia, a whistleblower is a person who exposes any kind of information or activity that is deemed illegal, unethical, or not correct within an organization that is either private or public.

Whistleblowing is particularly important in the fight against corruption. Acts of corruption often go unchallenged when people with relevant information do not speak about it. Accounts of witnesses offer invaluable insights into corruption, and are powerful tools in the fight against it.

However in most countries, whistleblowing carries high personal risk because there is little or no legal protection against dismissal, humiliation or even physical abuse. Several controls on information, libel and defamation laws can deter people from speaking out when they have information.

Australia, Canada, Jamaica, India, Ireland, Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States all have safe and confidential mechanisms enabling public servants and the general public to disclose wrongdoings committed in public and private sector.

A number of African countries have recently adopted comprehensive whistleblower laws including Ghana, South Africa and Uganda, while Kenya and Rwanda are also considering enacting it.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2015 ranked Nigeria 136th of 175 countries. Nigeria has struggled to successfully prosecute corruption cases due to the gap in its legal framework, since most corruption cases depend on whistleblowers.

Nigeria’s attempt to have a comprehensive legislation that protects whistleblowers was during the 6th assembly of the National Assembly between 2007-2011. The legislation which was not passed during the period was reintroduced in the 7th assembly between 2011-2015 and also suffered same fate. Its introduction in the 8th assembly of the National Assembly in the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill 2016 and Witness Protection Bill 2016 reignites the hope of getting a legislation that seeks to protect persons who disclose confidential information on the grounds of public interest and will enable the proper investigation of matters disclosed.

The sponsor of the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill in the Senate Senator Biodun Olujimi argued that the provision for protection of whistleblowers would support an open and transparent structure where citizens would be aware of how to report suspected acts of corruption or wrong doing and have the confidence in the reporting procedures free from fear of retaliation. She was of the view that the existing structures of anti corruption agencies appeared insufficient and that the bill, if passed, would improve the country’s poor performance in its fight against corruption.

The Witness Protection Programme Bill, a closely related legislation, sponsored by Senator Isiaka Adeleke in the Senate also seeks to promote law enforcement by facilitating the protection of persons who provide information that assist law enforcement agents. The bill also seeks protection for investigators, prosecutors and members of the judiciary and increases the incentive for persons with useful information to testify. Under the provisions of the bill, a witness may qualify for protection if he or she provides information that directly or indirectly assists law enforcement agencies.

The two bills have been passed for second reading and referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters for further legislative inputs. The bills may be merged due to their similarities as suggested by some members during debate on the bills.

Having a legislation that protects a whistleblower will be a giant stride in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.

Impunity is destroying social justice and development in Nigeria

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There is only one reason why social justice has failed and appears like a fairy-tale thing in Nigeria. Many Nigerians know this very well, they see it go on every day, they sleep and wake up with it.

That one reason is that those who are appointed to manage the social justice system in Nigeria often use it to protect themself and those who they favour. And while they channel the influence and resources of the social justice system to their own personal interest and that of those who they favour, they mostly have to neglect or suppress the needs of the rest of the people, especially where those needs conflict with their own interests.

In many cases, for you to enjoy social justice in Nigeria, you are either a family or friend of someone who is employed in or appointed to an office of social justice. Like the paramilitary, military, law and governance, especially the police. It is also common for people to join any of these social justice services to have such privilege in the society.

This behaviour has existed before the colonial rule and continued into present-day democratic rule. It has existed since traditional monarchical rule. This is over a century of misrule and deprivation which has left the common people with no social security.

A recent and good example of such manipulations of social justice by appointed social justice officials is the Diepreye Alamieyeseigha (late) case.

Alamieyeseigha, an ex-Nigerian Air Force officer and then-Governor of Bayelsa State, was arrested for charges of money laundering in London in September 2015. After escaping to Nigeria from London during bail under disguise as a woman in December 2005, being impeached as governor on allegations of corruption in December 2005 and getting a ridiculously short prison sentence for six charges which he pleaded guilty to on July 26, 2007, he was released on July 27, 2007, just few hours after being taken to prison, two days after bagging a 2-year sentence.

Then, on June 28, 2012, a US court moved a motion on Alamieyeseigha’s case for default judgement and civil forfeiture. But on March 12, 2013, he was pardoned by then-President Goodluck Jonathan who was his close ally.

Doyin Okupe, then-presidential adviser to Goodluck Jonathan, defended this pardon saying, ‘He was tried, jailed and dispossessed of his property. He has been remorseful.’ And that, ‘There’s no law against the granting of pardons to any criminal.’

The extent that this behaviour destroys the development of the country is huge. It destroys the efforts of citizens to make decent social and economic growth. And it encourages citizens to end up taking to the way of crime or civil disobedience.

On Alamieyeseigha’s case, human rights lawyer Bamidele Aturu said, ‘It is better to fling open the gates of all our prisons and ask all the inmates to walk out into the warm embrace of their relatives than pardon those who force otherwise decent Nigerians to take to crime as a way of life.’

One Nigerian journalist blames this overrule of law and abuse of power on traditional ‘monarchical sensibility’ and ‘military dictatorship’ and its ‘martial impulses’ that still subtly exists in Nigeria till present day.

Little has changed till date. Although, President Buhari’s anti-corruption campaign and efforts since assuming office in 2015 is making Nigerians look forward to a total reform and turnaround. The main concern is how long it will take for that anti-corruption effort to reach the grassroot where common citizens suffer more from acts relating to corruption like impunity.

How dark is the web in Nigeria?

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It may be hard to say exactly how much of the internet in Nigeria is used in illegal and criminal activities, but it is certain that some of the Nigerian webspace is home to such activities. The most popular of such illegal and criminal activity in Nigeria has been scam and fraud.

Those who carry out scam and fraud on the internet in Nigeria are popularly called ‘yahoo-yahoo’. The same term is often used to describe the activity itself.

Internet scam and fraud in Nigeria has mostly been targeted at the international community. Scam and fraud cases worth millions of dollar have been traced to Nigeria by cybercrime investigation units from the international community. In a report published August 1, 2016, a 40-year old Nigerian man called ‘Mike’ got arrested for ‘global scams worth more than $60m’. This is just one out of so many cases.

The Nigerian government has found it difficult to monitor or control these activities mostly because of lack of strong cyber know-how and unchecked corruption in government agencies, especially those of law enforcement. According to report, the arrest of the Nigerian scammer Mike was initiated by interpol. Nigeria’s economic and financial crime agency EFCC only entered into the picture later to collaborate with interpol on the arrest operation in Nigeria.

Kidnapping, cyberbullying and terrorism are among other illegal and criminal activities that are starting to show up on Nigeria’s webspace. Groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) and Boko Haram have used the internet for some of their operations. Leaked nude videos or pictures of Nigerian celebrities or important people hit the internet more and more.

This is probably how dark the web in Nigeria is for now. It is uncertain how much more illegal and criminal activities go on out on the Nigerian webspace than the few that have been pointed out here. This is mostly because the dark web is mostly hidden away in the deep web where search engines never index them and it is difficult to monitor.

There are many countries with far more notorious webspace than this. Illegal and criminal activities like drugs, child porn, cyberattacks and hired murder go on in the dark web in America, as seen in the popular Silk Road case.

Character content and life in Nigeria

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Somehow, a society often reflects the character and culture of its people. The same way it is for groups and organisations. The internal factors and components shape how the larger whole looks and behaves or operates.

According to the book Science for All Americans, a Project 2061 publication by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, ‘Societies, like species, evolve in directions that are opened or constrained in part by internal forces such as technological developments and political traditions.’

Based on this principle, one can find and observe a link between life in Nigeria and the character of the people. If that link exists, it means that the social conditions and day-to-day living that anyone can enjoy in Nigeria are affected by the different kinds of characters expressed by Nigerians.

Characters are formed from society too. Naturally, the people we see today in society were born by parents and raised from homes within society itself. Every person is very much a product of the society he or she is born into and raised within.

This is enough reason to believe that character cannot be taken for granted in the development and preservation of the quality of life in Nigeria. It is also proof that the characters of Nigerians over the past years are responsible for the characters of Nigerians and the life in Nigeria in present day.

As explained in Science for All Americans, ‘The conditions of one generation limit and shape the range of possibilities open to the next.’

If Nigeria is going to have better generations in the future, the present generation of Nigerians must be of good character.

Before arguments on government policies, religion and ethnicity, every Nigerian must look inward and assess their character. It is important to take account of the content of their character first of all.

Elements of character common among Nigerians, like prejudice, betrayal, greed, envy, deceit, pettiness, among many others, have gone a long way in creating an unpleasant life in Nigeria. All these are seen affecting the the quality of homes, neighbourhoods, businesses and public offices.

If Nigerians take a bold step towards building and improving on their character today, life in Nigeria would start to improve.

The ban on hawking in Lagos

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The government of Lagos State placed a ban on street hawking starting from the month of July. This news brought mixed feelings among Nigerians (as usual). The problem with progressive development is that it can bring harsh policies. These policies can only be endured before they become normal to and welcomed by the general population.

Nigerians want development, and whether we like it or not, that involves creating a sustainable, sane environment. We have all thought, one way or the other, about how much better the roads would be if they were free from people soliciting for their goods to be purchased. Some of those hawkers can be vicious, stubborn and out rightly ruthless in their hustle to empty their cartons and fill their pockets.

Now, while I seriously hope that the proposed ban is met by the hawkers with a determination to thrive through alternative forms of trading or means of livelihood, I also hope that they do not see this ban as a punishment from the administration or anywhere else.

I commend the Lagos State government for the ban on hawking. However, it is a work in process, so I care more about what the end result of this ban will be, because many policies see the light of day in Nigeria and get swept under the rug the next day. It would be great if the government enforces this ban with all seriousness and continuity so that the city of Lagos can be free to attain glory. Without continuous effort to see street hawking go away, the government risks losing all progress made.

For the good of the country, more states should also ban street hawking, especially in the cities.

Immunity is impunity in Nigeria

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According to the Nigerian constitution, immunity is provided for political officials like the president, vice president, governors and their deputies.

The immunity clause can be found under section 308 of the 1999 constitution. And according to Olaoye Ebenezer Olugbenga (2012), the concept of political immunity originated from a Latin word ‘immunitas’ which was used to describe the exemption of a person from service or duty to the state.

In the world today, the concept of immunity has been adopted in democracy and allows public officials to be free from being subjected to certain aspects of the law.

Immunity is in degrees, there is absolute immunity and qualified immunity. Absolute immunity is a form of legal immunity which confers total immunity from criminal lawsuits and prosecution on government officials as long as their actions are within the scope of their duties. Qualified immunity on the other hand applies only if certain laid down conditions are met.

Absolute immunity is usually conferred on government officials in democracy in order to free them from undue harassment and to allow them freely act and make decisions without fear of those decisions being used against them in their service to society.

Whichever kind it might be, immunity was created for government officials with a fair level of integrity, honesty and commitment to the act of governance.

Unfortunately, Nigeria could not stop the influx of shameless people of low morals into the government. Absolute immunity began to mean giving such people the freedom to act in their own interests while in office and receiving no lawsuits or prosecutions for their actions.

The immunity clause in the constitution became a fairy god-mother for corrupt officials.

The abuse of immunity by public officials is a very serious issue and should be treated as such. Nigeria’s “democracy” looks unready for such a clause in its constitution.

Corrupt officials should not be granted freedom to do as they please under the guise of immunity. We need an immediate amendment to the constitution. Let us save Nigeria while we still can.

The government and us [Nigerians]

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It is easier to blame the government than to blame yourself. But the problem with blaming the government is that it places responsibility and blame for lack and want on an invention made by men that was meant to serve as a platform to guide human cooperation, to take care of our needs and society.

Government, as I see it, is a body that constantly changes in character and content due to the fact that it is made up of different people who make it to do different things per time.

Government is not a supernatural entity whose successes and failures can be distanced much from those of the people under it; after all, people make up the government and determine its functions.

My point with all these is that the government is us and we are the government. Government is what it is per time because members of the government are voted in by the people and members of the government came from among the people. Therefore, the people are the government and cannot distance themselves from its subsequent successes or failures after it has been assembled.

In light of what I have said in the paragraph above, the people of Nigeria need to see that the current economic/financial problems in the country are not the problem of the APC-led government, but the problem of all of us.

I hate to see or hear or read about someone blaming the incumbent president [Buhari] for the sad state of the nation.

If electricity is not available in someone’s street, Buhari is blamed as if he has no Minister of Power. Some people even scream his name when they go to buy tomatoes from the market; I ask, is he a tomato farmer or did he organise the tomato scarcity?

Nigerians need to stop burying their heads in the sand and face the giant, destroy poverty before it destroys us.

I have lived with both rich and poor families during the scarcity of tomatoes. The poor people kept on complaining about the state of the nation and had to give up eating tomatoes totally. I noticed that the main source of income in their house is from the government. The rich people on the other hand have a successful family business and they enjoyed tomato consumption as usual, nothing changed for them. An increase in the price of tomatoes was inconvenient and angered them. They too complained, but they could still happily eat rice and stew.

A person that has freed his or herself from the chains of allowing the government and the state of the economy to determine their personal income has found the key to happiness in this country. Let there be more wealth creators than those who depend on the oil in the Niger Delta. Wealth creators are less affected in times of economic problems because they work hard to generate enough for themselves and others, no matter what the country is going through.