Thursday, 30 August 2012

LASTMA and the new Lagos Traffic Law

We are all familiar with the recent false murder allegations leveled against Stanbic IBTC Bank Employee, Yinka Johnson on Friday, August 10 2012. In a lie of the century deserving of recognition by the Guinness Book of Records, officials of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) alleged that Yinka crushed one of their men, 33 year old Hammed Balogun to death, along the Lekki-Ajah Expressway. Thanks to eye witnesses who quickly came to her rescue, by debunking the false claims and presenting fresh facts, including photo evidence which forced the police authorities to drop the murderous charges. 

 Now, we present to you photos and stories sourced from different sites, and taken from different parts of the Lagos metropolis. We leave it to your conscience to decide whether these officials indeed, have the capacity to enforce the new Lagos State Traffic Law, in accordance with human dignity and safety standards. Over to you!

This is how LASTMA officials "arrest" traffic law offenders.
A LASTMA official sprained his ankle while chasing after a car that allegedly committed a traffic offence.
LASTMA official pushes conductor off a moving bus, to his death.
LASTMA official killed at Okeafa, Ejigbo area of Lagos. According to eyewitnesses, “One of (LASTMA officials) them stood in front of the vehicle while another one attempted to enter the passenger side. However, the driver sped off. The LASTMA official standing in front of the car managed to escape but the one attempting to enter the passenger’s side was crushed.
A LASTMA official on "duty"


- LASTMA accused of extortion by bus drivers

- LASTMA needs cleansing

- LASTMA officials jailed

- LASTMA to regulate traffic, not to impose fines

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Cynthia Osukogu Vs. The Social Media

By Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri

Shock, outrage, agony and, of course, mixed feelings have continued to trail the murder of 24 year old beau, Cynthia Osukogu, a daughter of a retired major general of the Nigerian Army. Confessions extracted publicly from her murderers established how the deceased’s Facebook friends, drugged and then snuffed the life out of her, in a hotel room in Lagos. Her premature death put paid to her dreams, academic aspirations, entrepreneurship prowess and beauty. What a sad loss!

The involvement of “Facebook friends” in the murder saga has put the social media on trial, forcing many to adjust their privacy settings and recalibrating the character of the relationships they have with Facebook acquaintances. Cynthia’s father, retired Major General Frank Osokogu reportedly told newsmen in Jos, last Friday that “Cynthia’s death serves as a caution to youths who get to know friends on social media and venture to meet them.” As the debate regarding the value to be placed on Facebook friends rages along moral, ethical, social, professional, and more recently, safety lines, a key finding is that none of the arguments put forward in support of the divergent viewpoints powerfully conveys practical solutions designed to meet the challenges posed by the growing global dependence on digital information dissemination techniques and new media technologies. There is however, consensus on one point: personal security or safety is key!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Challenging Indiscipline in Lagos Schools

By Shoremekun Saheed Ololade
Together with members of the Spaces for Change (S4C) network, I visited Ikotun Senior High School on August 22, 2012, to formally launch a complaint to the school authorities regarding an incident involving students of the school, which I witnessed on August 14, 2012. On that day, I saw students of that school, using tipex fluid to change the grades on their report cards.
With me were Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri, the executive director of Spaces for Change,  Chris Xrix Ero; Gabriel Ogunbanwo and Don Abiodun Odedeyi, who are also members of S4C network.
Holiday coaching lessons for senior secondary school students were in progress when we arrived. The principal of the school (Mrs Awosiyan) was not on seat, but we were fortunate to meet the Vice- principal, Mrs Adebayo. We quickly introduced ourselves and our mission to the school, and then handed over our complaint letter to her, which she declined to acknowledge.

The vice principal admitted that the school authorities were much aware of such nefarious activities among secondary school students across Lagos State (not only her school), as they have gained notoriety for such acts. Consequently, the school retains duplicate copies of all results containing the actual grades, as a strategy for uncovering the rampant acts of misconduct by the students. Usually, no punishment, nor deterrence measures are employed to prevent recurrence, the reason being that students with poor grades - whether or not they tampered with their grades - will eventually repeat classes or withdraw from school as the case may be. 
"Parents routinely come to the school to plead for more marks to be added to their wards who did not meet the promotion cut-off-points", she lamented. There are also cases where students have altered their results with assistance from some teachers, in the name of 'help'. These teachers then attempt to defend the altered results, even when the altered contents substantially differ from copies retained by the school authorities. That unholy collaboration with teachers further emboldens the students to such a level that they (students) absolutely see nothing wrong with what they are doing, the vice principal disclosed.

Meters are no longer to be paid for by customers - SAM AMADI, NERC

On Saturday, August 18, 2012, Spaces for Change (S4C), a human rights organization committed to promoting awareness of government policies and programs, and facilitating citizen engagement in policy and governance processes, hosted an E-Conference on Power Sector Reforms, featuring Dr. Sam Amadi, Chairman of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as the lead discussant. This report documents the proceedings of the 2-hour moderated e-conference.

The e-conference, moderated by Zainab Usman, of the International Crisis Group (ICG) presented a forum for interaction and engagement between the top government official and 1,800 Nigerian citizens, at home and in the diaspora, on the Federal Government's efforts towards achieving stable electricity supply, and a significant turn-around in the nation’s power sector. A total of 52 questions submitted by the participants prior to the e-conference, were synthesized into topics for discussion. Typical of S4C’s online conferences, a simultaneous live streaming of the key issues and highlights of the discussions on Twitter, via the #PowerSectorReforms, enlarged the interactive space, enabling more participants from all works of life, and from different parts of the world to join the online conversation.

A Working Group on Power Sector Reforms constituted after the conference, comprising civil society leaders, industry experts, researchers, policy analyst and media representatives, will establish the boundaries, mandate, modus and membership of a civil society coalition, that will monitor the procurement processes and service delivery in the Nigerian power sector.

Famed for its expertise in leveraging technology, crowd sourcing concepts and web-based communication tools to promote public awareness, and facilitate citizen engagement in the policy, legislative and institutional platforms and processes of the Nigerian oil and power sectors, S4C will use this report as an advocacy tool, and continue to use its array of online and offline platforms to amplify the conference outcomes. By working to stimulate public interest and trigger informed dialogue on key developmental issues such as oil and gas, energy, environment and urban governance, S4C is determined to create a powerful movement of citizens that can push for policy and legislative changes on a variety of vital issues affecting the citizenry.

Here are excerpts from the conference:

Monday, 20 August 2012


August 20, 2012

The Principal
Ikotun High School
Alimosho Local Government
Lagos State

Dear Sir/Madam:


Established in May 2011, Spaces for Change (S4C) is a non-profit, human rights organization working to infuse human rights into social and economic decision-making processes and platforms in Nigeria. Using the human rights framework and youth-centered strategies, the organization creates spaces for the often-excluded young people, marginalized groups and communities to become active participants in public decision making, and strong advocates of social and economic justice.

We write to draw your attention to a very shocking experience involving students of your school, which a member of our network, Mr. Shoremekun Saheed Ololade witnessed on August 14, 2012. On the said day, he was passing through Ikotun Market, and stopped at one of the stalls to purchase a pen. The particular shop he stepped into was filled with about 15 students of Ikotun Senior High School. On enquiry, he learned that they were SS1 and SS2 students of the school. All of them were holding their result booklets which also indicated the name of the school.

Ostensibly, the students had just collected their results from the school. On a closer observation, he realized that the students’ mission in the bookshop was to get tipex, (cleaning fluid) which they used in doctoring, and altering their report cards. They did this openly, without any inhibition. Outraged by such brazen display of criminal conduct and indiscipline by the students, he alerted members of the S4C network.

Consistent with our mandate to transform Nigerian youths into effective future leaders, we respectfully demand that the school immediately launches an investigation into this incident, with a view to identifying and correcting the students with altered results, and to further take stringent measures to avert a recurrence. Doing so would not only serve as deterrence to other students, but would also align with the state and federal government’s efforts to enhance qualitative education and promote positive youth development.

While we await your action on this mail, we hope to be informed about the steps that have been taken to address the issues raised in this email.
Kindly note that we reserve the right to make this matter public.

Yours Sincerely,
Picture source:

Lagos is the 3rd worst liveable city in the world, says the Economist Intelligence Unit

The Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Lagos, Nigeria as the third worst liveable country in its recently released 2012 Global Liveability Survey. The liveability report which surveyed 140 cities around the world to assess the best or worst living conditions gave Lagos the 138th position. This was a drop from its 137th position in the 2011 ranking. Following closely after Lagos was Port Moresby which took the 139th position and Dhaka, Bangladesh as the 140th position making it the worst liveable city in the world.

Ranking first on the list as the city with the best living conditions is Melbourne, Australia with an overall rating of 97.5. Vienna, Austria ranked second while Vancouver, Canada ranked third. Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa took the 92nd and 96th positions respectively.
London, UK is ranked 55th, while Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the next host of the Olympics also shares the 92nd position with Johannesburg.

The liveability report surveys 140 locations around the world to assess the best or worst living conditions. Cities are scored on political and social stability, crime rates and access to quality healthcare. It also measures the diversity and standard of cultural events and the natural environment; education (school and university); and the standard of infrastructure, including public transport.

The Economist Intelligence Unit produces regular reports on the “reports on the liveability”, and cost of living, of the world’s major cities, which receive wide coverage in international news sources.

For a full list of the 140 cities and their rankings, click here.
What do you think about the ranking? We want to hear from you!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

E- Conference on Nigeria's Power Sector Reforms

Amid widespread reports of improvement in electricity supply across the country, the question on everybody’s lips is: “Are the power sector reforms yielding fruit already?”…"Will the improvement last, or is it merely induced by the high rainfall season which keeps Kainji and the Shiroro Dams generating output at optimum capacity?" …”How can citizens meaningfully engage, participate in, or support the power sector reform processes?”

Propelled by the many questions, commentaries, reports, and articles we have carefully collated, studied and analyzed, SPACES FOR CHANGE is convening an e-conference focusing on power sector reforms of the Nigerian government.  The e-conference’s lead discussant, Dr. Sam Amadi, Chairman of the National Electricity Regulatory Commission will interact directly with over 1,800 Nigerian citizens, at home and in the diaspora, on the Federal Government efforts towards achieving stable electricity supply, and a significant turn-around in the nation’s power sector.

The e-conference proceedings will provide an advocacy tool for sensitizing the public on the latest developments in the sector, and to mobilize public engagement and participation in the reform processes. Our array of online and offline portals will provide additional platforms for amplifying the e-conference outcomes.

Date: Saturday, August 18, 2012

Time: 4-6 p. m.

 ...Eagerly Awaiting to Participate in the E-Conference 

Monday, 13 August 2012

The National Conversation: Oil, Identity, Security and Self-Determination

SPACES FOR CHANGE's forth-coming publication, The National Conversation: Oil, Identity, Security and Self-Determination is a must-read for local and international audiences interested in understanding the many problems currently afflicting Africa’s most populous nation.  Written in a conversation format, the report tells a compelling story of Nigeria, through the lenses of young Nigerian scholars and professionals, united with a passion to challenge the many injustices that stem from the increasingly dysfunctional identity and regional constructs threatening the country’s continued survival. Jeremy Weate’s foreword to the report, gives fuller insights into why oil, economic and political discourses among Nigerian citizens have historically been colored by such tribalistic, nationalistic, and sectarian identity constructs.  

Characteristic of conversations in SPACES FOR CHANGE’s 1,800-member Discussion Roomthe discussants, in a no-holds-barred manner, reflected on the state of the nation, examining in great depth, the country's dependence on oil, the flaws in the current regional structures, the escalating terrorism and insecurity, and the recurrent leadership crisis. The discussants also debated very intensely, the prospects for regional autonomy and the economic viability of the regions, while interrogating the achievability of Nigeria's continued survival as one nation

The discussions, which started on July 21, 2012, with a post by Olusola Osineye  lasted over 6 days, and attracted 12 likes and 668 comments by Nigerian professionals spread across ten countries in five continents, mainly the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Ghana, Canada, Phillipines, Malaysia and different parts of Nigeria. The conversation started with the post below:

 The identifiable commercially-viable oil wells in Nigeria are in Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta and Calabar and all are located in the geopolitical zone of South South (SS). Calabar and Onne in the region also have recognised international sea ports. 

The South East (SE) region's major economic clout is entrepreneurship, technology (although fragmented) and modest inroad into industrialization. The region is however land-locked.

The South West! It also has modest industrialization, but the major economic clout it wields is Lagos - the commercial heart beat of West Africa. It also has internationally recognisable ports at Apapa and Tin Can. The North (including the middle belt) contributes the bulk of the country's agricultural output. The region, like SE is also land-locked and would always require access to regions with international sea ports.

Do you still think Nigeria can go their separate ways without another bloody war? Their survival is too deeply interwoven”.
Unsurprisingly, the post provoked intense debates, angry outbursts, sharing of personal experiences and random reflections on the Nigerian Civil War,  widespread corruption, political instability and identity constructs blurring efforts at achieving national integration and unity. Even more contentious was the discussion regarding the linkages between the lingering security crisis and the dependence on oil revenue; and the resulting threats of national disintegration, including the clamor for a Sovereign National Conference. 

The characters, comments and issues raised in the report are real. The opinions belong to the individual authors and do not represent Spaces for Change’s position on those issues.

Excerpts from the report:

 Nigeria is a blessed nation with abundant human and natural resources spread across the six geo-political regions. The fundamental problem leading to most of our national challenges is the extreme focus on OIL. Despite the huge demand for oil, recent innovations and technological breakthrough indicates that demand for oil will dwindle in the years to come. Those who think that our revenue starts and ends with oil should have a rethink. – Chyke Nwokedi

Oil is not necessary for the survival of any nation. Furthermore, any economy that is essentially based on resources coming from one particular part of a nation alone, without adequate self-sufficiency of other parts, is sure to breed only continuous chaos.  - Ugian Elias

Until our extractive laws are well streamlined, most states cannot do much to exploit resources in their areas. We have to therefore, invest heavily in the exploitation of the economic resources peculiar to each region of the federation before we can safely cut ourselves loose from the present fiscal arrangement. – Bologi Jimada

Do Nigerians really intend to live together? That is, are the objectives and direction of the majority of Northern Nigeria compatible with that of the South? …Nigeria would do better if we can live together as one. Where we cannot, the option of going our separate ways should at least be put on the table. No one is discussing separation where there is peace, love harmony and development– Samuel Diminas

Nigeria, as presently constituted is definitely not working. That is a fact. But, the question is: why is it NOT working? Is it the unwieldy structure? Is it because of religious intolerance? Is it because of ethnic intolerance? Is it because of massive political elite's greed and corruption? Is it because the North wants to rule forever? Is it because of lack of equity, fairness and justice? – OlusolaOsineye

The last time I checked, from a modest estimate of an estate surveyor,the Nigerian market alone can gurantee over $20billion from marketting bitumen products annually,and there is the promise of above $200 billion annual income from international marketting of the products. The above statistics are not so different from those contained in the feasibility papers in respect of bitumen being bandied around by government. If the figures are right, then the promise of excellent turnovers year in year out should adequately compensate for the initial take off fund of $300 million needed by the licenced companies to start exploiting. But I guess the FG is still busy making oil windfall money, and less interested in actualizing economic diversification beyond official platitudinous rhetoric.       –  Olasunkanmi Olapeju

What makes China economy to grow as a communist nation? Manpower! A workforce that gets people engaged in productive ventures and which also provides them financial security. Believe me, the political game that you see today will change when each territory has its own sovereignty. And when capitalists are starting look for advantages within a territory to expand their viability, the focus will be competitiveness between capitalism and making politicians secondary to the public. - MikeTunde Hubscrown Adewumi

The balkanisation snippets from the South South-led government which has been exacerbated by the violence in the north will turn to good for Nigeria. The north's quest to worship their own God; the south-south’s quest to control their resources; the south east's desire to control their political destiny and the push by the South West to determine their economic independence simply points to one thing - regional autonomy. I believe in the phased wind-down of economic dependence on the centre, a constitutional amendment that will strengthen our union, foster our unity as a nation and help us maximise our economic potential. - Chyke Nwokedi

It is myopic to hold tenaciously to secessionist views. I understand that religious and cultural intolerance can push one to take a subjective stand, but the greater advantages of a united and prosperous Nigeria outweighs such views. I believe we can build a society where tolerance, law and order will hold. If others did it, we too can! –  Olusola Osineye

 What happened to the Igbos during the civil war is the worst type of wickedness. I tremble when I remember. I believe it should be revisited and they should be compensated. We keep on glossing over this issue where the worst type of human rights abuse took place. I keep on wondering why those who witnessed man's inhumanity to man in this war are still calling for carnage. We must with one voice call for reparation, and insist that no Nigerian should be allowed to feel like a refugee in his own country. - Alero Mobola Adollo

 The basis for seperation is however not as simplistic and clearly defined as it looks. I have always maintained that the North cannot be referred to as a collective like you will the South West or the South East. There are too many tribal groupings in the North to make for an easy or straight forward classification. - Bologi Jimada

Tuesday, 7 August 2012


The Birth 0f the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB)

Nigeria is ranked Africa’s number 1 and ranked number 12th globally among oil-producing countries [in barrels per day], according to 2011 statistics by the United States Energy Information Administration[1]. Despite being among the world’s top oil producers, Nigeria’s oil and gas industry has been plagued by institutionalized corruption and impunity, with grave environmental and humanitarian devastations. With the kind of technological advancements and innovative developmental strategies of the 21st century witnessed in oil industry operations across the globe, it became obvious that the legal, institutional and governance structures driving Nigeria’s oil sector operations were in dire need of a comprehensive overhaul. Legal standards and operational procedures put in place in the sixties and seventies – such as Petroleum Act (1969), the Associated Gas Re-injection Act, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Act (1977) - when the industry was still at its  infancy had become obsolete, outdated and out of tune with contemporary global business realities. 

Decades of mismanagement have deprived Nigerians of the benefits from the sector, just as vested interests continue to block and/or stall important reforms. The country is losing over 10% of its gross domestic product through fraud and could still not produce reliable accounts for national oil and gas production. Fresh in Nigerian minds are the mass protests opposing government attempts to abolish the subsidy on local fuel in January. The protests propelled high-powered probes which exposed the unprecedented financial mismanagement and horrendous malfeasance entrenched in the administration of fuel subsidies.

The Nigerian oil industry is further afflicted by too many regulatory institutions with duplicated roles and responsibilities, ill-equipped to formulate and implement transformative policies and programs that will keep the sector at par with counterparts across the globe. Worse still, the laws governing the activities in the oil sector were dispersed in several pieces of legislation, coupled with the numerous amendments, policy statements and regulations. Not only were the maze of legal framework often difficult to locate, but the absence of a coherent legal regime posed huge obstacles to efforts at improving local crude oil refining, energy efficiency, reducing oil imports and pollution, job creation and environmental protection. Revising the PIB became necessary for Nigeria to move towards an improvement in operational efficiency, productivity, viability and the general standard of operations in the Nigerian oil sector.

The oil sector reforms started under Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, with the establishment of the Oil and Gas Sector Reform Implementation Committee (OGIC), mandated to review the operations of the oil and gas sector, harmonise the 16 legislations that governed the industry, and produce a comprehensive legislation that would overhaul the oil and gas industry;  make such recommendations for a far reaching restructuring of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, and in the process, unlock billions of dollars of delayed investment. The Committee was inaugurated on the 24th of April, 2000 under the Chairmanship of Dr. Rilwanu Lukman (CFR) then serving as the Presidential Adviser on Petroleum and Energy (The Chairmanship later passed on to Dr. Edmund Daukuru, former Minister of State for Energy). The Committee comprising of a wide spectrum of individuals from both the public and private spheres of the industry, worked for four years to produce the first draft of the Petroleum Industry Bill. 

The PIB was first presented to the sixth assembly in 2009, but efforts to pass it were hampered by what industry experts described as political intrigues, wrangling between the National Assembly and the executive, and the dearth of effective citizen engagement on key provisions of the Bill. Lawmakers, citizens and industry stakeholders hardly had access to adequate information and resources on the basis of which they could make informed decisions regarding the PIB. Low levels of awareness and the lack of public consultations fuelled popular resistance, consequently foiling a major 2009 legislative attempt to have the Bill passed.

A new version is now ready for consideration by the lawmakers. The new draft PIB is an aggregation of several legislations on the oil and gas industry. The new policy covers in a comprehensive manner all the relevant aspects of the industry: Upstream, Downstream, Gas, Petrochemicals and many other industry related matters. The thrust of the new policy, however, is to ensure the separation and clarity of roles between the different public agencies operating in the industry, mainly through the unbundling of the national oil company, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC). Equally of significant concern is the need to infuse strict commercial orientation in all the relevant aspects of the industry mainly by moving the control of the downstream oil and gas sector from government controlled monopoly to private participation. 

Until the January uprising, citizens either lacked interest or were largely indifferent about oil sector activities, resulting in decades of under-reported and unchallenged corruption and impunity in the sector.  The new PIB now offers a unique opportunity for citizens to participate and engage in the reform processes and activities in the oil sector, aimed at sanitizing the industry of endemic sleaze, and freeing up resources that will be re-channeled towards infrastructural development and poverty eradication

The scope and influence of the new PIB is wide, requiring intense citizen engagement to avoid ‘politicisation’ and “capture” of the legislative processes.  Initial commentaries however suggest that this version has been watered down to appease certain vested interests. Several provisions on transparency and accountability principles are believed to have been either removed or softened. Perception is also growing that the newly-created governance structures require some modification, and tend to give unfettered powers to some officials. These concerns, and many more informed the convening of the E-Conference, The PIB & YOU.

[1] See site for further review

[2] The new PIB 2012 was drafted by a new committee headed by Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, in collaboration with a technical sub-committee headed by the Director General of Department for Petroleum Resources (DPR), Mr. Osten Olorunsola.
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