Posted to PR Nigeria: May 19, 2008
By Mike Nwokoro
On 29th of May this year, it will be exactly one year that the present administration under the indefatigable Leadership of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua assumed office. This was the day that the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo handed over the mantle of leadership of this great Country to His Excellency Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. The day was uniquely memorable as it witnessed the first successful transition from civilian to civilian administration after years of failed attempts at making history in our guest for being counted among democratic nations of the world.
Today, we can beat our chest and say, with pride that Nigeria has broken the political jinx and crossed the Rubicon as we have successfully transited from eight solid years of civilian administration to another. This political dividend is what we Nigerians are now savouring in the past one year.
A critical examination of the modus operandi of this administration in the last one year has brought to the fore the undisputed fact that no government has accorded high respect and obedience for the rule of law as the Yar’Adua administration since Independence in 1960.
In the first one hundred days of this administration, some unprecedented records were set which set the tone for a new dawn in Nigeria’s judicial system and the rule of law.
For instance, President Yar’Adua ordered the immediate release of N10.8 billion Lagos State local government’s funds in line with the Supreme Court ruling over three years ago which was not obeyed by the Obasanjo lead government.
Aside from this laudable action, President Yar’Adua and his able Vice-President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan publicly declared their assets in line with the Law and Constitution of our beloved nation, Nigeria.
Another pointer to the Penchant of this administration to accord high respect for the rule of law was demonstrated with the reinstatement of Justice Chrissiantus Senlog who was sacked in 2004 for complicity in the Akwa Ibom State governorship election in 2003.
The immediate reinstatement of Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State after the Supreme Court ruling further demonstrated the prime respect of this administration for the rule of law. Ordinarily, this landmark judgement by the Supreme Court could have been consigned to the dustbin of history by the previous government. This could be easily justified especially as Dr. Andy Uba, the ousted two weeks governor of Anambra State, is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of which President Yar’Adua is the leader. This bold demonstration and respect for the rule of law by this administration sent warning signals to some state governments and other political office holders with election petitions in Tribunals and Courts of Appeal that the era of blatant disregard for our laws are now over for good.
It was therefore not surprising when the Courts of Appeal in Kogi, Adamawa, Sokoto and Bayelsa States among others nullified the governorship elections of 14th April, 2007 and ordered for fresh elections within 90 days. Presently the re-run elections have been concluded in Kogi and Adamawa States of which the Peoples Democratic Party won and the incumbent former governors sworn-in respectively.
The re-run governorship elections in Bayelsa and Sokoto States are by the corner while the Nation awaits with keen interest the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Edo State governorship election which the Tribunal ruled in favour of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole of the Action Congress (AC).
History will never forget the strict adherence to the principles and tenets of the rule of law exhibited by President Yar’Adua on the Supreme Court ruling that brought to office, Governor Rotimi Chibuike Amechi of River States as against the former Governor Celestine Omeiha who contested and was voted for at the last 2007 governorship election.
These laudable examples of Mr. President have contributed significantly to the sustenance and development of democracy in Nigeria. Interestingly too, President Yar’Adua’s positive disposition to strict adherence to the rule of law has impacted on members of the National Assembly, State and Local government functionaries and even the entire strata of the society.
Politicians now know that it is honourable to obey the laws and tenaciously defend the constitution of our country. In the last one year, no Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has been indicted for violating or treating with reckless abandon the law of our land which is a sharp Contrast with the behaviour pattern of our past public office holders.
It is therefore not an exaggeration to posit that President’s Yar’Adua’s one year in office has restored the respect and dignity of the judiciary. Nigerians now heave a sigh of relief and see the judiciary as a potent partner in the determination and drive of this administration to nurture, strengthen and deepen democracy in Nigeria.
Another area that strikes one’s attention within the last one year in the life of this administration is the management and dissemination of information in the country.
Information management and dissemination play a sine qua non role in the overall development of democracy as government programmes and activities must be packaged and sent to the relevant publics for their understanding and feed back to achieve desired objectives.
The excellent record of this administration within the realms of unparalleled respect for the rule of law has been replicated in the dissemination of Information in the past twelve months.
The Honourable Minister of Information and Communications and Spokesman of this administration, Mr. John Ogar Odey has brought humility, civility, respect for the rule of law and Constituted Authority, frankness and humane disposition to bear on his job of effectively publicising government programmes and activities.
This young, dynamic, God fearing, loyal and former National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has diligently carried out his statutory function without insulting the sensibility of Nigerians, irrespective of age, status, religion, ethnic group or nationality, political affiliation and Camp to say the least.
In fact, Mr. Odey has brought the ideals of humane information management and dissemination to the front burner position as reflected in the news content of some government media organisations like the Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA), Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, (FRCN), News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) and Voice of Nigeria (VON).
These organisations report the News professionally and in accordance with the ethics of Journalism. It is a big plus and credit to this administration that in the past one year, no individual, group or organization has accused the Honourable Minister of Information and Communications of propaganda, overzealousness, disrespect to Elder Statesmen and Constituted Authority.
No false information has equally been disseminated to Nigerians about Government programmes and activities including the Seven (7) Point Agenda of this administration. The media irrespective of ownership has been free to carry out their functions without inhibition or constraints created by the government.
No body can deny the fact that in the last one year, no Journalist has been arrested and jailed by this government in the course of the performance of his or her duty. Similarly, no media house has been closed down by the Yar’Adua administration in the past twelve months. The polity has not been heated not even to contemplate being over heated due to propaganda or misinformation.
In fact the last one year could be rightly described as the golden epoch of Nigerian Journalists in terms of freedom of expression and the overall discharge of their duties.
An objective appraisal or post-mortem of the Yar’Adua administration since May 29th last year, has clearly demonstrated that the era of rhetorics propaganda and disrespect to the rule of law are over.
It is therefore incumbent on all Nigerians to take advantage of the conducive environment provided by this administration as regards respect for the rule of law and humane information management and dissemination with a view to reaping bountifully from the dividends of democracy under President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
Chief Press Secretary to
Hon. Minister (Information & Communications)