Tag Archives: Africa

Good Governance: Nigeria Ranks 41 Among 52 African Countries

The 2013 Good Governance Summit held in Dakar, Senegal, in collaboration with Mo Ibrahim Foundation has ranked Nigeria 41st among 52 African countries that are relatively backward in human development.
The new report contained in the 2013 Index of Good Governance made available to the Hausa Service of the Voice of America (VOA) in Dakar, Senegal, indicated that the Republic of Niger is in the 28th position.
The Index of African Governance was launched by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, an organisation that supports good governance and great leadership in Africa.
The report provided full details of Nigeria’s performance across three categories of governance as assessed by the Index: Security, Sustainable Economic Opportunity and Human Development.
Speaking on the development, former chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who attended the summit, said that despite the country’s mineral resources, Nigeria is still ranked 41st compared to neighbouring Niger Republic which was ranked 28th out of 52 African countries, adding that “this is a serious setback.”
“Economic management and human development cannot be achieved if a democratic deficit persists,” he stated.
Commenting on the 2013 Index, Founder and Chair of the Foundation, Mo Ibrahim, observed that young people today are demanding a holistic, equitable and inclusive approach to the management of their countries.


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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Governanace


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In this piece towards the third annual International Day to End Impunity campaign launched by IFEX  Global Network,  ELVIS-WURA TOWOLAWI writes on Nigeria Human Rights Lawyer Rommy Mom one of the persons profiled and circumstances of the campaign.


Undoubtedly the greatest challenges facing the attainment of a civil, democratic and well-governed state is the ugly face of impunity; this is especially so in mother Africa where human rights are breached and violated with panache knowing that the Law only barks but hardly bites. Predictably, this culture of impunity has turned many States into a wild, wild wasteland where Rights lay prostrate before Might (read power) and mouths sewn with communistic dispatch.

But in the very face of this dark, foreboding silence, certain Voices, call it a loud lone voices, scream to the high heavens, decrying Inequity, Inequality, Discrimination, and Privation- anything that lessens the value and dignity of humanity, while upholding the banner of the Rule of Law, Good Governance, Respect for Human Rights and Accountability. One of these Voices is that of Mr. Rommy Mom.

The light and plight of Rommy Mom’s activism is echoed this season by the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) anti-impunity campaign in its 3rd annual “International Day to End Impunity” (IDEI), holding from 1st-23rd November 2013, wherein it will profile the case of Rommy Mom amongst others in different parts of the globe, in his fight for the rights of the downtrodden and voiceless masses in Nigeria.

Mom and Mike Utsaha at Occupy Nigeria protest

Mom and Mike Utsaha at the occupy Nigeria protest march

In 2012, flood ravished Benue State, Nigeria, destroying farmlands, settlements, homes and lives. Owing to this emergency, the Federal Government, alongside other well-meaning individuals made available donations, of over one billion Naira– for the victims in the State. The money was given to the State government under the leadership of Governor Gabriel Suswam.

More than a year after the State collected these monies, the victims were not given the money without a word  about the fund, unlike what obtained in Imo and Sokoto States where victims were assisted and efforts made to restore them to their status before the flood.

It was in this state of affairs that the voice of  Rommy Mom pierced the silence using the Freedom of Information Law. He wrote to the Benue State Emergency Agency ( BSEMA), a government agency in charge of emergency relief, demanding information about the flood-relief fund. Predictably there was a tall menacing brick wall of silence. He applied to the Court through the instrumentality of the Freedom of Information Law to compel the Benue State Emergency Agency (BSEMA) to give account of the fund: the Agency in defense averred that the Suswam-led Government did not release a dime to for any victim. The Court dismissed the application on technical grounds holding that the funds was a rumour.

It was in the middle of this that Rommy Mom’s live was threatened. The State Governor, Gabriel Suswam went on air to vent expletives on the person of Rommy Mom for daring to question this show of impunity. This was a signal to attack dogs of the government, and after a tip-off and continued media attack by the Governor, Mom fled Benue.

It is instructive to note here that, Rommy Mom walked into dangerous grounds for standing up and demanding accountability of state funds from persons who should ordinarily are obliged to provide answers. This is impunity, abuse of power and denial of freedom of expression.  He fled his state and became a fugitive-activist in his own fatherland! Sadly, even as the time of writing this piece, the flood victims in Benue State are still counting the linings on their ceilings- empty, disillusioned and forsaken. Not a dime has reached any of them. They are abandoned like diseased and bewitched orphans in a land that professes “Social Justice and Welfare of her Citizenry” as the pillars of its existence and establishment.

Let’s get a little biographical and personal with Rommy Mom. Let’s trace the roots of Rommy Mom’s activism and face-off with ‘Authorities’ when they attempt to emasculate the voiceless dregs of the Earth. Let’s look at his stature in human rights Dadaism. Rommy Mom is a lawyer and international development expert of field experience in areas of Good Governance, Civil Society Strengthening and Socio-Economic Rights. He has worked with Civil Organizations throughout Nigeria—to build capacity, groom advocacy abilities and provide civic-political education and enlightenment. He’s the current President of Lawyers Alert in Nigeria a Human Rights Promoting NGO which works towards “Right-based governance through accountability and responsive governance that focuses on electoral reforms, Anti-Corruption and Constitutional reforms”

Before joining Lawyers Alert, he had served as Nigeria Country Director Nigeria for Global Rights –an organization that works with Local Communities in Africa, Asia and Latin America to promote and protect the rights of unheard and marginalized populace.

Mr. Mom once chaired the Benue Bar, and BENGONET (A NETWORK OF NGO’s in Benue State). He is a member of National Human Rights Committee-representing Nigeria Civil Society. He was also Secretary of the Rule of Committee of the Nigeria Bar Association.

Rommy Mom is not all arm-chair, bottle water and conference; he is also a fighter: robed in gown, wig and Law-gloves. He has been in and out of court on hundreds of occasions for the commoner, walked the streets in protests especially during the occupy Nigeria period, monitored elections in various countries in Africa and successfully prosecuted and continues to be involved in public interest litigation.

Rommy Mom is a fist in the face of impunity and deserves expressive freedom to keep confronting the forces of inhumanity enslaving, degrading and dehumanizing mankind. Let’s all stand with Rommy Mom and the other persons profiled by IFEX to say NO to impunity.



Posted by on November 14, 2013 in Governanace, Human Rights


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Nigerian human rights lawyer profiled in International Day to End Impunity campaign

Mr. Mom, who is President of the Makurdi-based non-governmental organization, Lawyers Alert, is being threatened because he is asking questions, using the Freedom of Information Act, about how much Benue state received from the Federal Government and other sources as support to flood victims in 2012 and how a N500 million federal assistance was spent, since no victim of the floods in the state had been paid. 

Rommy Mom is being threatened for asking questions about how much Benue State received from the Federal Government as support to flood victims in 2012.
Rommy Mom is being threatened for asking questions about how much Benue State received from the Federal Government as support to flood victims in 2012.

For the first time ever, Nigeria entered theImpunity Index of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ), released on May 3, this year, in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day. The Impunity Index is an annual ranking of countries where journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free.

Nigeria is one of five countries around the world to be highlighted in this year’s global campaign to end impunity. The other countries are Cambodia, Egypt, Turkey and Ecuador.

In launching the IDEI campaign, IFEX is asking its members around the globe, as well as other individuals and organizations, to participate in its “23 Actions in 23 Days” by taking actions hosted on the website;, which will serve as the campaign hub from November 1 to 23.

Observing that something new will be featured on the website every day between November 1 and 23, IFEX said: “We’ve created multimedia resources to help people understand the problem and find ways to add their voices to a global network of activists working together. Through infographics, videos, online interactive experiences, articles, country profiles and interviews, we hope to engage more people than ever in this campaign that strikes at the very roots of the injustice and insecurity that silence expression.”

IFEX explained that it especially hopes the campaign will help draw attention to and encourage action in support of five individuals who will be profiled on specific days during the campaign, and then again on 23 November, the International Day to End Impunity.

Those to be profiled ahead of the IDEI are: Yorm Bopha, a Cambodian human rights activist and protester, on November 4; Eren Keskin, a Women’s rights activist and lawyer in Turkey, on November 7; Doaa Eladl, an Egyptian cartoonist on November 12; Martin Pallares, an Ecuadorian journalist on November 14; and Rommy Mom, a Nigerian human rights lawyer, on November 18.

IFEX is working with its Nigerian member, Media Rights Agenda (MRA), to draw national and international attention to the plight of Mr. Mom. MRA will be coordinating activities in Nigeria in the lead up to the IDEI, particularly on November 18 and 23, including providing details of Mr. Mom’s case and calling for public support on his behalf to ensure his safety and enable him return to his home state to continue his work.

The IFEX impunity campaign website also features an interactive map that will plot all campaign events and actions planned or undertaken by IFEX members. The hashtags for tweets are: #IDEI#endimpunity and #23Nov.


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Posted by on November 8, 2013 in Uncategorized


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By Rommy Mom, esq

In 2009, when Nigeria’s External Affairs Minister, Chief Ojo Madueke, stated before the Human Rights Council, HRC, of the United Nations during the country periodic review that there were no gays in Nigeria, even Nigerians back home were amused. The statement was inaccurate at best.  At the 2013 review, Nigeria took a slightly different position. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Bello Adoke, stated that Nigeria’s Government would not accede to same sex marriage because it is anti cultural.

This statement presupposes that gays do exist in Nigeria.

Nigerians know gays do exist in the country, have been with us and that we indeed have local and cultural appellations to describe homosexuality. In fairness to the then Honourable Minister as per the 2009 position, he was battling to justify the ever present Same Sex Bill in the Nigeria parliament, which seeks to criminalize Same Sex Conduct. The Minister did not avert his mind as to why Nigeria was preparing legislation for a nonexistent community.

As earlier stated, we have always had gays in Nigeria, so the question now is, why the furor about gays and criminalization of same sex conduct?

This question is however itself inaccurate.  Homosexuality is and has always been an offence or crime in Nigeria. Our existing laws refer to it as Sodomy. Section 284 of the Penal Code for Northern criminalizes homosexuality. These are laws inherited form Britain, Nigeria’s colonial masters.

It is wrong therefore, to say Nigeria is on the verge of criminalizing same sex conduct. This has always been the position. Over the years however, Nigerians have lived more in total neglect of the law than in its compliance. Nobody before now cared whether these laws existed. Gays lived their lives amongst fellow Nigerians, could be identified but nobody cared. It was an attitude of “do your thing so long as you do not involve me.”  Of course there is and there has always been social stigma but it was a situation of see no evil, hear no evil. Essentially, “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Yes we had gays, they lived among us, their lifestyle came with some social stigma, as is the case even in other parts of the world, but that was it.  Everybody went about their businesses.

To the question again, what changed? Why the attention now on homosexuality and the gay community? Why the reinvention of the wheel now to re criminalize same sex acts?

There are two schools of thought regarding this issue.

The 1st school of thought posits that when Nigeria hosted the 2005 International Conference on AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections in Africa, ICASA,  (an umbrella organization of societies for AIDS in Africa), gays were included in the deliberations with particular emphasis on preventing the spread of the virus. State officials, for whatever reason, stated at the time that Nigeria does not have homosexuals in existence and a group of those present disagreed. It was the silent gay minority now trying to poke a finger in the eye of authority. Persons of this school of thought say that this was the genesis of government’s resolve to crush this cluster of “social misfits” and do away with them.

A second school of thought has it that, failed politicians losing relevance, owing perhaps to their poor performance or other factors, decided to throw religion and dead sentiments into the equation of governance so as to maintain relevance. This, they claim, started with the introduction of Sharia and Christian fundamentalism into Nigerian politics which led to the demonization of homosexuality.

Arising from either of the two, or both, Nigerians were “sensitized” to the growing dangers of being gay and what it portends for our society, culture, and our chances of going to heaven. Of course being the cultural/passionate people we are, the religious people (not spiritual) we are, we started to fall over each other in a bid to decide whose voice could be heard the loudest in condemnation of homosexuality. Note, even before independence and from independence, our laws criminalized homosexuality.

Why was it so easy to whip Nigerians into a frenzy, so quickly into an anti gay disposition, if Nigerians had all along lived quietly with it and accepted gays, choosing only to ignore them?

The answer lies in the title of the proposed law and what the Nigerian on the street understands it to be. The Authorities cleverly styled the Bill “Same Sex Marriage Bill”. The word “marriage” is the catch. Nigerians imagined gays are now asking and demanding for the right to marry, have civil unions and so on.  Nigerians cannot accept nor live with gay marriages. Not now and not in the foreseeable future.

The shame of the rather misleading title of the Bill is that, neither individual Gay Nigerians nor the gay community in Nigeria have demanded nor stepped forward with any demand for civil unions or marriage for homosexuals in today’s Nigeria. This is why the Same Sex Marriage Bill is said to be a farce and meant merely to divert the attention of Nigerians from issues revolving around poor governance and plundering of state resources by politicians and others in positions of authority. In truth, all the noise about same sex marriages is a non-issue in Nigeria!

Yes, the Same Sex Marriage Bill defines “marriage” as any form of same sex conduct, but in truth less than 0.1% of Nigerians have seen the Bill or read it. The word marriage is the key to putting Nigerians up in arms against gays. Nigerians are protesting and will not allow gay marriages. This is not peculiar to Nigeria. Many countries including several states in the US are also yet to accept the concept of same sex marriage.  Eliminate the word “marriage” from the Bill and we head back to the old laws that Nigerians ignored.

The proposed Same Sex Marriage Bill, has however pushed the anti same sex conduct prohibition to fresh frontiers. Human Rights seem to be the least of its worries and advocacy for the rights of gays is now also proposed to be treated as a criminal act. Owing to the surge of negative attention, citizens are gradually resorting to hate crimes against known homosexuals.

The judiciary is also suddenly on the alert.  Based on the old laws, about 22 convictions have taken place in Nigerian Courts in Delta, Kaduna, Zamfara, and Nassarawa states in the last 6 years, as against 2 convictions in over 44 years before now. The Federal Capital Territory, FCT, is no exception.

The question of same sex marriage strictu sensu, it is argued, is at best an academic exercise in Nigeria. Gays in Nigeria are neither demanding nor advocating for same sex marriage. Their demands are simple: recognize our rights as humans in whatever position the government intends to take. Respect the human rights of all whether homosexual or heterosexual. It is the writer’s opinion that this is a fair argument and a very reasonable one at that too.

In fairness to the government, it has also opened up channels of communication and kept free the space for debate and argument on the Bill. Activists and Advocates even if within a hostile parliament, have been allowed to state their position.

This is hoping that whatever position is finally arrived at, human rights, particularly the rights to self-expression will continue to be respected and upheld. We all have the right to be different. Being in the minority is no reason or basis to have the majority take away minority rights where such exist.




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Iceland the best Country on Earth for Women Right now – Global Gender Inequality Index

The Global Gender Gap Report, published yesterday, found “definite if not universal improvements” in economic equality and political participation between the sexes in the ranking of 136 countries. Of those countries measured this year and last, 86 improved, the Geneva-based WEF said in an e-mailed statement. Iceland ranks first as in the last five years.

Finland ranked second this year followed by Norway and then Sweden, unchanged from last year. Among Group of 20 economies, Germany, where Angela Merkel won a third term as chancellor, ranked highest. It dropped a place to 14th compared with 2012.

South Africa ranked 17th, with the U.K. coming in 18th and Canada rose one rung to land at 20th. The U.S. was 23rd, while Russia ranked 61st, followed by Brazil at 62nd.

Thanks to generous maternity leave provisions and inexpensive daycare for children, Nordic countries have high labor participation rates for women. There are two female prime ministers and two female finance ministers in that region.

Norway’s historic quota system for women on supervisory boards is being copied elsewhere in Europe: Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Iceland either plan to, or have already implemented similar policies. The European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory arm, proposed a quota system in 2012 to bring more women onto corporate boards.

Globally, inequality remains greatest in the areas of economic equality and political participation, according to the index. First compiled in 2006, it considers economic, political, education and health-based criteria.

“In both developing and developed countries alike, relative to the numbers of women in tertiary education and in the workforce overall, women’s presence in economic leadership positions is limited,” the WEF said in the study.


The International Monetary Fund will push countries to publish more data on female participation in the labor market in an effort to draw attention to policies that could boost growth from Italy to Egypt, Managing Director Christine Lagarde said last month.

Nicaragua, which has now featured in the top ten for two years, was Latin America’s leader in closing the gender gap in the study, largely due to “political empowerment.” Cuba followed at 15th, with Ecuador in 25th place.

The Philippines ranked highest among countries in Asia, “due to success in health, education and economic participation.” China’s place in the ranking was unchanged at 69th, while India climbed four places to 101st, above Japan at 105th.

In Africa, several countries — Lesotho, South Africa, Burundi and Mozambique — featured in the top 30 this year due to women’s participation in the workforce, according to the WEF.

Through this economic activity [in Africa], women have greater access to income and economic decision-making

“Through this economic activity, women have greater access to income and economic decision-making, but are often present in low-skilled and low-paid sectors of the economy,” it said.

The only region not to have improved its standing was the Middle East and North Africa, the report found. The United Arab Emirates ranked 109th, the highest-placed Arab country in the region, which achieved parity in education. Bahrain ranked 112th, with Qatar at 115th, “still failing to adequately capitalize on the investments in education through greater economic and political contributions from women,” it said.

At the bottom of the ranking were Chad (134th), Pakistan (135th) and Yemen (136th).

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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Women Rights and Gender


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