US-based Nigerians converged in New York under the aegis of the Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum (NDLF), a pro-democracy movement based in New York to adopt the tag of a Peoples Parliament to vent their apparent dissatisfaction with the state of the nation. Dr. Adegboyega Dada, a New York-based medical doctor and chairman of the NDLF, who spoke first at the gathering before it was turned into a parliament, explained the rationale for the plan for a Peoples Parliament.
Dada stated that the idea was informed “by four factors: One, that we are Nigerians; two, that the state of affairs of our nation leaves much to be desired; three, that the problem of Nigerian nation is not unsolvable and finally, that we Nigerian citizens are able to help the nation identify a pathway that can result in ‘notable’ progress.”
He said there was an “an immediate need” for Nigerians abroad to intervene in the situation of “our beloved country, Nigeria.”
According to him, “there are tons of problems ranging from socio-economic concerns to political stagnation. These challenges are so compelling that true Patriots must rise to the occasion and must not keep mute. That is why the Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum has called on you today to discuss some problems and proffer practicable solutions as a way of moving Nigeria forward.”
So, after the “parliament” was convoked, Dr. Okey Ndibe, ace columnist and US-based college professor, grabbed the gavel and called for order. His earliest business was the need to clarify the legitimacy and purpose of the parliament. Ndibe made it clear that he personally had no intention of becoming a politician and was not keen on the idea of forming any type of government in exile.
The matter quickly proceeded to an excited debate, parliament style. Already, the hall had been arranged in roundtable style and the parliamentarians accredited with number tags and properly seated.
As that specific debate progressed, two counter-motions were tabled. A group of the Diaspora Nigerians wanted to at least announce the formation of a “government in exile” right there and then.
Alex Kabba, formerly of The News magazine, led that call. Kabba, the publisher in the US of African Abroad newspaper, moved a motion that “we should declare ourselves a government in exile.” That is what will compel attention, he argued.
But another motion was on the table from a Maryland-based Nigerian lawyer, Muyiwa Sobo, that the gathering should be constituted into a movement, not an opposition but clearly a movement that is not satisfied with the state of the Nigerian nation.
Kabba’s motion was defeated and the gathering was carried by the motion that was resolved that the US-based Nigerian group will “constitute ourselves into the Nigerian People’s Parliament in Diaspora and commit ourselves to the purpose of Nigeria’s political, economic and social development and progress.”
Even though the “parliament” had to divide and vote on a number of issues, the excitement in the room was palpable, as the parliamentarians moved on to the next issue after another with renewed gusto. It was as if this group of Nigerians abroad had been waiting for such an opportunity to speak up on the fate of their country.
The agenda of the parliament included topics like the current political impasse and constitutional crisis in Nigeria; the impact of corruption, electoral reform and elections; the Niger Delta and the Nigerian leadership and follower ship. By the end of their first meeting, the parliament adjourned with one subject left – the issue of the leadership and followership.
On the first agenda, which was clearly directed at the ailing Nigerian President (Umaru Yar’Adua) and the attendant political brinkmanship taking place in Aso Rock in the last one month, the Nigeria Peoples Parliament had a heated debate.
Saharareporters’ publisher, Omoyele Sowore, who some see as the image of the Parliament’s “majority leader” moved a motion that Umaru Yar’Adua should be clearly declared incapacitated and removed from office immediately.
But, perhaps, the most articulate of the parliamentarian on that day, college professor, writer and public commentator, Prof. Mobolaji Aluko, differed slightly, moving that the motion should just ask that the Acting President should outrightly assume the full powers of the presidency without the parliament declaring Yar’Adua incapacitated.
But in a majority decision, the parliament resolved that it was “cognizant of the serious sickness of President Umaru Yar’Adua which necessitated his hospitalization in Saudi Arabia for more than 90 days.”
However, it was added that the since the “purported return” to the country in February 2010 no one had seen the ailing president among his cabinet “including the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.”
This “inability to discharge the functions of his office,” according to the Parliament, inspired their resolution “that, from all intent and purposes, Mr. Yar’Adua is incapacitated and Dr. Jonathan should be sworn-in immediately as the substantive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
As the parliament moved along, Aluko was up again, this time leading the discussion on corruption. He defined corruption as “the appropriation of public and private resources for the benefit of the individual.” He argued that while corruption was rampant in the public sectors, people should not lose sight of its prevalence in the private sector as well. He said out that the judiciary had a critical role to play in ameliorating corruption.
Contributing, Dr. Nimi Wariboko, a US seminarian and college Professor of Ethics, stated that part of the problem was that “the federal government is too big.”
In his own contribution, another notable journalist at the event, Bunmi Aborisade, from Ekiti State, argued that Nigerians themselves have to “stop voting for dubious people.”
Mr. Nosa Aigbovo, who noted that he came from Benin, chipped in; saying the people in Nigeria needed awareness and political education.
On the issue of corruption, the Speaker himself, Dr. Ndibe, joined the discussion. According to him, “there are two scandals in Nigeria,” the immunity clauses, which, he said, even protects public officials from criminal investigation and security vote scandal.
Indeed, the issue of corruption generated the highest number of resolutions of the parliament – three in all – thus:
* Aware that corruption in Nigeria has remained endemic, the Nigerian Peoples Parliament resolved that there must be close monitoring of Nigeria’s public and private institutions and officials worldwide, by exposing ill-gotten wealth and acquisition of assets in foreign countries; that the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill currently in the National Assembly should be passed immediately and enacted into law; and that other effective measures to check corruption must be instituted or, where they are already in existence, strengthened.
* Parliament discussed the unfortunate broad interpretation of the immunity clause in the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, and resolved that the clause guaranteeing immunity from prosecution to designated public officials must be narrowly defined to cover only legitimate acts that fall within the recognised functions of governance; and that no public official should enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution.
* Recognizing the pervasive abuse of security votes, Parliament resolved that security votes of all public officials shall be subjected to the scrutiny of an oversight committee. The oversight committee shall comprise, wherever possible, of an equal number of members of the opposition party(ies) and members of the executive’s party; in addition, the committee should include at least one ombudsman.
One testy issue debated at the parliament was the fate of the Niger Delta, with US-based Nigerians from Niger Delta clearly taking the lead and pushing arguments, which led to the adoption of a resolution. That “all the States of the Nigerian federation should henceforth control their resources and only pay taxes to the Federal Government,” in what is seen as a radical decision, which many of the parliamentarians believe is the only way forward.
Specifically, it was also resolved that “the Niger Delta should be adequately compensated for past environmental degradation.”
The US-based Nigerian caricature Peoples Parliament also demanded the removal and criminal prosecution of the INEC chairman, Prof. Maurice Iwu and the decentralisation of the Nigeria Police.
At the end of the parliament, NDLF Executive Director, Mr. Bukola Oreofe, noted that as members of the parliament introduced themselves, it was clearly seen “that a cross section of Nigerian ethnic groups was represented.”
According to him, “despite the inclement weather that ravaged the North East of the US (there was a hurricane wind) especially in New York, the MPs impressively came in from different parts of the United States such as Pittsburgh, Missouri, California, Texas, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, and co.”
Oreofe said: “From this experience, it is clear that Nigerians are willing to be part of finding solutions and no longer content with sitting at home complaining. There was a pervasive desire to rescue our country from those who are determined to destroy a nation that once showed a lot of promises but is now pleading to be liberated from the pathological greed of incompetent leaders.”
Many well known Nigerians in the US attended, including NCP’s Ogun State gubernatorial candidate, Ogbeni Lanre Banjo, from Washington DC and Dr. Steve Nwabuzor from Michigan. Others were Mr. George B.L Komi from Georgia, who acted as the Clerk; Mr. and Mrs. Remi Oyeyemi from Delaware and Rudolph Okonkwo, a US-based writer and journalist.
The organisers said that former EFCC chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, who had planned to come, had problems with his flight.
Credit, Laolu Akande, The Guardian
NIGERIANS IN THE US FORM NIGERIA PEOPLES’ PARLIAMENT IN DIASPORA (NPPID)
March 13th 2010: New York; Almost 110 Nigerians converged in New York to form the Nigeria Peoples’ Parliament In Diaspora (NPPID). This historic event was convened by the pro democracy, US based Nigeria Democratic Liberty Forum (NDLF) providing the opportunity for Nigerians with diverse professional vocations to come together and fashion practical ways to ensure the emergence of an economically developed and politically stable Nigerian State.
The maiden session of the Parliament witnessed the election of Dr. Okey Ndibe, as the Speaker, Mr. Laolu Akande as the Deputy Speaker and Mr. George Komi as the Clerk. The Members of Parliament introduced themselves which showed that a cross section of Nigerian ethnic groups were represented. The Parliamentary Rules and Procedures including its Standing Orders were adopted and the session commenced with Members of Parliament (MP) expressing passion and intellect on how to solve the problems confronting our beloved nation.
Despite the inclement weather that ravaged the North East especially New York, the MPs impressively came in from different parts of the United States such as Pittsburgh, Missouri, California, Texas, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington DC, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Virginia, etc.
From this experience it is clear that Nigerians are willing to be part of finding solutions and no longer content with sitting at home complaining. There was a pervasive desire to rescue our country from those who are determined to destroy a nation that once showed a lot of promises but is now pleading to be liberated from the pathological greed of incompetent leaders.
The Parliament adjourned to reconvene in June 2010.
Please find below after the resolutions the list of MPs that attended this maiden session
RESOLUTIONS OF THE NIGERIAN PEOPLES’ PARLIAMENT HELD ON THE 13TH DAY OF MARCH 2010 AT THE CONFERENCE HALL OF LAGUARDIA MARRIOTT HOTEL, NEW YORK CITY, USA.
a). We, citizens and friends of Nigeria resident abroad, concerned about the dismal state of affairs in Nigeria, gathered at the LaGuardia Marriott Hotel, New York, on this 13th day of March 2010 hereby resolve to constitute ourselves into the Nigerian People’s Parliament in Diaspora and commit ourselves to the purpose of Nigeria’s political, economic and social development and progress.
b). Cognizant of the serious sickness of President Umaru Yar’Adua which necessitated his hospitalization in Saudi Arabia for more than 90 days, his purported return to the country in February 2010 even though he has not been seen by any member of his cabinet including the Acting President Goodluck Jonathan, his inability to discharge the functions of his office, we therefore resolved that, from all intent and purposes, Mr. Yar’Adua is incapacitated and Dr. Jonathan should be sworn in immediately as the substantive President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
c). Aware that corruption in Nigeria has remained endemic, the Nigerian Peoples Parliament resolved that there must be close monitoring of Nigeria’s public and private institutions and officials worldwide, by exposing ill gotten wealth and acquisition of assets in foreign countries; that the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill currently in the National Assembly should be passed immediately and enacted into law; and that other effective measures to check corruption must be instituted or, where they are already in existence, strengthened.
d). Parliament discussed the unfortunate broad interpretation of the immunity clause in the 1999 Nigerian constitution, and resolved that the clause guaranteeing immunity from prosecution to designated public officials must be narrowly defined to cover only legitimate acts that fall within the recognized functions of governance; and that no public official should enjoy immunity from criminal prosecution.
e). Recognizing the pervasive abuse of security votes, Parliament resolved that security votes of all public officials shall be subjected to the scrutiny of an oversight committee. The oversight committee shall comprise, wherever possible, of an equal number of members of the opposition party(ies) and members of the executive’s party; in addition, the committee should include at least one ombudsman.
f). Parliament resolved that the Nigerian Police Force should be decentralized to the local government level in order to achieve closer monitoring of police officers and to ensure that the police are more effective and responsive to the communities they serve.
g). On resource control, Parliament resolved that states should be allowed to control the resources within their territorial limits and should pay taxes to the Federal government of Nigeria, and that the Niger Delta should be adequately compensated for past environmental degradation.
h). Parliament resolved that the Dr. Maurice Iwu, the present Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should be removed from office immediately, investigated, and if necessary, criminal prosecution be brought against him in order to uphold accountability and instill confidence in the forthcoming general elections in 2011.
Okey Ndibe Laolu Akande George B. L. Komi
Speaker of Parliament Deputy Speaker Clerk of Parliament.
ATTENDEES AT THE MAIDEN SESSION OF THE NIGERIA PEOPLES’ PARLIAMENT IN DIASPORA (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
1. Mr. Abel N Yibe
2.Ms. Abosede Adeyemo
3. Dr. Adegboyega Dada
4. Mr. Ademola Adesanya
5. Mrs Adenike Banjo
6. Ms. Adeola Oladele
7. Prof. Adesegun Labinjo
8. Mr. Alex Kabba
9. Mr. Ambali Busari
10. Mr. Anthony Chima
11. Mr. Anthony Ilesanmi
12. Mr. Anthony Ugbebor
13. Mr. Ayo Turton Esq.
14. Mr. Bamidele Adeyemi
15. Mr. Bukola Oreofe
16. Ms. Bukola Shonuga
17. Ms. Catherine C Udaze
18. Ms. Chantel Jones
19. Mr. Chris O Ezomo
20. Mr. Chukuma Okadigwe
21. Mr. Dele Alade Esq
22. Mr. Dimeji Ayanwale
23. Mr. Dominic Adeyemo
24. Ms. Esther Onuoha
25. Mr. Festus Akinrodoye
26. Ms. Florence Shogbola
27. Dr. Gbenu Semako
28. Mr. George Komi
29. Mr. George Onuorah
30. Mr. Gideon Obi
31. Mr. Godfrey Taneh
32. Mr. Ibrahim Ahmed
33. Mr. Ifeanyi Nnohan
34. Mr. Isaac N Okoro Esq.
35. Mr. Jefferson Oyibo-Ebije
36. Mr. Jide Ogunfemi
37. Mr. Jimmy Glover
38. Mr.Joe Udaze
39. Mr. Joel Gbadebo
40. Mr. Kehinde Kolawole
41. Mr. Laolu Akande
42. Mr. Life Kaanagbara
43. Ms. Lilian Agbeyegbe
44. Dr. Lion Agwumezie
45. Mr. M B Shehu
46. Mama Danzuky
47. Mene IkboBari Senewo
48. Prof. Mobolaji Aluko
19. Mr. Mohammed Nwagui
50. Mr. Musibau Williams
51. Mr. Musikilu Mojeed
52. Mr. Mutiu Leshi
53. Mr. Muyiwa Sobo Esq
54. Dr. Nimi Wariboko
55. Mr. Nosaakhare N Aigbogun
56. Mr. Nsikan Inokon
57. Ogbeni Lanre Banjo
58. Dr. Okey Ndibe
59. Dr. Ola Aliu
60. Mr. Olaitan A Kowobari
61. Dr. Olatunji Ojeranti
62. Mr. Oliver Udemba
63. Oloye Lekan Awojodu
64. Mr. Olubunmi Aborisade
65. Mr. Olufade Olabiye
66. Mr. Olufemi Falade
67. Mr. Olusegun Akinosho
68. Mr. Olusegun Dare
69. Mr. Olusegun M Lawal
70. Mr. Omoyele Sowore
71. Mr. Owen Oboite
72. Pastor Emmanuel Onasile
73. Mr. Patrick Abohwo
74. Mr. Paul Adujie
75. Mr. Peter Okodiko
76. Mr. Remi Oyeyemi
77. Mrs Remi Oyeyemi
78. Mr. Rilwan Amokomowo
79. Mr. Rudolf Okonkwo
80. Mr. Sam Lee
81. Mr. Segun Olumoyegun
82. Dr. Segun T Dawodu
83. Mr. Showunmi Shiji
84. Mr. Solomon Adebayo
85. Mr. Solomon Osidele
86. Dr. Steve Nwabuzor
87. Mr. Sunnuyi Adeyinka
88. Dr. Susanna Dodgson
89. Mr. Tajudeen Raji
90. Dr. Terry Bagia
91. Mr. Tokun R Ogunmola
92. Mr. Tokunbo Adedoja
93. Mr. Tombari Mcfini
94. Mr. Tunde Olatunbosun
95. Mr. Ugo Asobie Esq.
96. Mr. Vincent Oja
97. Mr. Wale Idris
98. Mr. Wonek Momoh
99. Mr. Williams Braithwaite
100. Ms. Whitney Mathison
101. Dr. Willie Nwiido
102.Mr. Yakubu Sulaiman
103. Mr. Yusuf Kama
104. Mr. Zakaria Imam
105. Dr. Zayad Modibe
106. Ms. Zainab Akpoberie
107. Hon. Oluwaseyi Ogunyinka