Communiqué of 22nd NAS Convention, 1998 - "The Way Forward"

Preamble

The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) held its Annual Convention in Calabar, Cross River State from 19th to 23rd November 1998. All zones were represented at the convention colloquium attended by 450 delegates world-wide.

The colloquium reviewed several local, national and international issues of significance to our nation especially at this crucial period of our national renewal. The following resolutions were taken at the convention.

The Nation

It is the collective opinion of the Association that Nigeria is today at a very delicate crossroad. The future is as uncertain as it has always been. Whereas we had a psychopath that terrorised the land and held us all hostage while alive, today we have a "well intentioned" leadership held hostage by the surviving agents of this monster. Those for whom the monster was a god are still scheming all over the place to safeguard his pathological kleptomaniac creed and protect their loot. It has been widely said that General Abubakar is a fine, disciplined, politically unambitious soldier, one that is humane, sincere, easy going, affectionate and rational. These are very fine attributes of a leader. Our concern is that they may not be enough to deal with the retrogressive forces of feudal oligarchy arraigned against him and the people of Nigeria and this is if we assume the General will not ultimately end up as an anointed agent of these forces of regression.

INEC and Transition

Meanwhile, the Association appeals to the Head of State and INEC to reconsider the 10% by 24 rule (now modified to 5% by 24). The rule is anti-democracy and should be withdrawn. Democracy is freedom of association not within any government-imposed boundaries. Every thriving democracy recognises the right of parties based on single issues to exist. The Ogonis have a right to form a political party based purely on environmental issues. The once derided Green Party in Germany is today the kingmaker.

The standard and universal rule has always been to provide matching fund for parties in the proportion of their performance at the electorate. The more support you can garner at elections, the more matching fund you get from government. A variant of this rule is to insist on a minimum level of electoral performance to qualify at all for any grant, not registration. Nowhere in which democracy thrives is it part of the rule to kill political parties on any account by government. It is the electorate, not government that determines the fate of political parties. The 10 by 24 (or 5 by 24) rule must be abandoned if our democracy is to survive. That performance spread is a condition of registration is a testimony to the failure of successive military regimes to build a united Nigeria in spite of their hypocritical claim to unity of command and patriotism. Even the whole notion of registration of political parties is an assault on our fundamental right of association.

In spite of all these, the Association pledges to monitor the transition programme to ensure it is not wilfully hijacked in defence of the status quo. There are allegations of illegal mopping up of voters' registration cards during the last registration exercise. The rogues must not be allowed to use those cards. We will find them and expose them.

Truth Commission

So are those who looted our nations treasury and now want to use the transition to launder their ill-gotten wealth. We also have those who turned Nigeria into a pariah state while visiting hell on the rest of us in the name of security. We at least now know that those guns and goons that held us hostage were no match for just two prostitutes armed with the Indian Tira! So much for the limits of power and security. These disciples of the devil must not be allowed to get away with their loot.

The Association therefore calls on the Head of State to formally establish a Truth Commission that will publicly investigate those who looted the Treasury and those who tortured their fellow countrymen in the most barbaric and brutal manner ever known to man.

All the atrocities of the past must be publicly confessed and documented. This is the only way to truly ensure we have had the last of evil. We note that General Abubakar may be making some effort at righting some wrongs of the past. The problem with his approach is that it is not comprehensive and the public does not know all the facts. It is too secret to have the desired impact. In any event, we need assurance that present efforts are sincere and not merely selective for convenience and public relations. For instance, why would the postmaster be free at home while those held for failed banks are still held in gaol? Not that they should be free if they have committed crimes, not at all. But there should no double standard, no sacred cows.

Set Up and Mastermind

We are amazed by our leaders' notion of justice when for the same alleged conspiratorial offence and conviction, some people are freed from jail to contest for the Presidency while others continue to be locked away. Meanwhile, the subject of all these set up plots have been universally pronounced good riddance to bad rubbish. Is this the warped notion of justice and democracy that this government wishes to bequeath to its successors? We do not think so and this is why we call on all Nigerians to work towards ensuring that justice and fair play become integral part of the ruling virtues of our future democratic governance. Part of the fair-play requirement in our opinion, is for this Government to re-visit fully the outstanding cases of "set-up" and "masterminding" of the various coup plots and let the nation know the truth. The judicial absurdity contained in those coup trials must not be allowed to become a point of reference in our nation's history.

Entrapment is as fundamentally repugnant to the broad society as loyalty to one's commander is supreme to the narrower military relationship. Civil ethics and laws, not military relational doctrines must govern society. We hold firm to the belief that an officer of the state with fundamental responsibility to the larger civil society has a duty and an obligation to prevent, not to promote crime. Encouraging a fellow citizen, guaranteed equal and full protection of the constitution, to commit a crime and then sit in judgement over him is not a defense but a defilement of the constitution.

Niger Delta

The Association noted with great concern the crisis going on in the Niger Delta area which if not curtailed has the potential of disrupting the national economy. The crisis is as a result of several years of neglect of the welfare of people from whose land the nation's lifeline resource is tapped. We cannot blame this government for it. We however call on the government to squarely address the issue by ensuring that the newly constituted OMPADEC lives up to expectation and is fully accountable to the people of the area. Their needs must now be fully addressed without the usual bureaucratic tangle that made previous attempts unsuccessful. The recent remark by the new Head of OMPADEC that the Jesse victims were thieves is unfortunate and is hardly a commendable starting point for a Commission that has a major role to play in appeasing a people who have been robbed by the rest of us of their land and environment.

Quota System, Federal Character

The Association notes that the continuing existence of institutions for the defence of quota system is absurd and a sad testimony to the several years of military governance. We have seen clearly that existing arrangement promotes the triumph of indolence over industry. It cannot continue this way. Any national institution or goal whose viability and acceptance depend on the application of quota instead of merit cannot be an enduring one. The continuing existence of an institution such as JAMB is antithetical to the emergence of a true Nigeria state. It is undemocratic and grossly unpatriotic. There are many such institutions in the land. We call on this government to commence the process of dismantling these structures.

PTF - Parallel Government

In the same vein, we note that PTF is an aberration. It is regrettable that its Chairman who is reputed to be a man of strong principle would announce his intention to quit on October 1st this year and would fail to fulfil that promise. This is November and he is still there. Regardless, PTF is Abacha creation, a dubious legacy that must not continue. PTF is not accountable to anyone, it is a parallel government, and it should be disbanded. It is funding education when we have a Federal Ministry of Education. It is building roads without the Federal Ministry of Works. It is buying drugs without the Federal Ministry of Health. It has taken over the allocation of the nation's oil resources without NNPC or the Federal Ministry of Finance. The Chairman of PTF has become the Economic President of Nigeria. We cannot have two captains on the ship. Where was PTF which collected the bulk of the proceeds from fuel sales when the refineries were breaking down? Please, let us end this grand deceit.

In Honour of Abacha?

We regret the recent declaration by the Head of State that public institutions and facilities named after General Sani Abacha will not be revisited. This is unfortunate and we appeal to the Head of State to reconsider this decision. How can we honour this man with our public institutions, a man who looted so much out of our Treasury, who wrecked so much havoc on our nation, who traumatised so many citizens, who terrorised so many innocent souls, who impoverished our fatherland? This was a man whose government did not commission a single capital project throughout its five-year tenure! If Yakubu Gowon Street in Lagos could revert to Broad Street, if Diya Stadium in Abeokuta could revert to Gateway Stadium, then there is nothing sacred about Abacha's name to merit permanent honour. To many, and from all the evidence available, Abacha is synonymous with evil. His name brings sad and tragic memory to many households. By the way, we are eagerly awaiting the reversal of Louis Farrakhan Crescent in Lagos to its original indigenous name, ELEKE CRESCENT.

Port Harcourt Harassment

The Association notes with dismay the continued harassment of its members in Port Harcourt by the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Ahmed Abdulkadir. Seventeen members were tried, discharged and acquitted by the Miscellaneous Offences Tribunal (Eastern Zone) for belonging to a secret cult banned by the University of Port Harcourt. The members were arrested at their meeting place open to the public and located in the heart of the town at least 30 kilometres away from the nearest higher institution of learning. This Association is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission with registration number 1592. The Police in Rivers State gave this evidence themselves. No secret cult known to us ever registers with anybody.

Unless the CP has personal scores to settle, we strongly call on him to leave our members alone lest we are forced to seek redress at the appropriate quarters. We have so far tried to avoid joining issues with him especially in keeping with the general goodwill being extended to the government of General Abubakar. We call on the CP not to do anything that will jeopardise this state of affairs.

His claim that there are student members is no longer tenable. This Association does not conduct any activity on any campus. In any event, students are adults who are also entitled to their freedom of association. Mr. Commissioner Sir, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Please Vote Your Conscience

The Association sympathises with all those who suffered variously for the sake of their principle, honour and integrity and in defence of their fatherland against the tyranny of the recent past. We call on all to keep guard to ensure evil never passes through this land again. We also call on all Nigerians to be on guard to ensure the success of this Transition programme. We appeal to all to vote their conscience and for the future of their children, their job opportunities and realisation of their potential. We appeal to all not to vote for bribery and short term inducement that will keep us permanently in the abyss. It is the choice we make now that will either finally heal the wounds of victims of Abacha's reign of terror or make vain their suffering.

To General Abubakar

We wish you continued good health and success in the difficult task that fate has entrusted on your shoulders. Please Sir, keep up your commitment to human rights and make this nation proud once again by abrogating Decree Two now. May God and be with you and protect you.

Signed:


Ben Oguntuase
NAS Capone
National Association of Seadogs (NAS)

22nd August 1999