By Franca Joseph (AGENDAWATCHDOG) – The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), of the prodemocracy groups that spearheaded the struggle for the actualition of the June 12 Presidential mandate, has urged the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to return the country to true Federalism.
NADECO’s call for a return to “Federal Constitutional Arrangement was contained in a press statement titled, “Return to Federalism to Save Nigeria”.
Read NADECO’s full press statement below
“RETURN FEDERALISM TO SAVE NIGERIA”, A PRESS STATEMENT BY NADECO ON THE OCASSION OF THE MARKING OF NIGERIA’S DEMOCRACY DAY.
The National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, on the occasion of the 27th Anniversary of June 12th 1993 victory of Chief Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, in a presidential election, which was provocatively annulled by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida led military junta, the umbrella platform established by retired statesmen of both military and civilian governments, pro-democracy activists of various ideological bent, professional organizations, students, women, trade unions, religious and traditional rulers for the prosecution of a credible nation-wide and broad-based campaign for the de-annulment of that election victory and the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference, SNC wishes to observe that:
Yes, it was true that on the 26th Anniversary of June 12, President Mohammed Buhari took his political opponents by surprise when he decided to honour Chief M. K. O. Abiola with the highest National Honour G.C.F.R. (only reserved for the Head of State) and declared June 12 as Democracy Day to replace May 29 henceforth.
NADECO, in its reaction, commended President Buhari but objected to the award of GCON to Babagana Kingibe who sold out the peoples mandate given to the joint ticket of himself and Abiola. Kingibe not only became Minister of Foreign Affairs but also Internal Affairs respectively where he along with his associates lied and falsified events of brutality, repression, assassination, denial of human rights and elimination of political opponents inclusive of environmental activist, Ken Saro Wiwa.
NADECO is however worried that none of the critical issues we raised in our Press Conference last year has been addressed even though they remain critical and fundamental towards resolving the incessant political instability, economic misery, national mutual mistrust, in cohesion and unacceptable level of national insecurity.
Therefore, NADECO must of needs assert that:
1. The seeming total disregard of this administration and its party (APC) to fulfil its major electoral promises and Manifesto that it would restore the country to federal constitutional governance if voted into office constitutes a betrayal of public trust upon which it secured its mandate in 2015.
It is very painfully clear now that the President and the APC made false promises that they did not intend to execute. The El-Rufai Committee set up (an afterthought) therefore remains a ruse, a gimmick to hoodwink the public to believe that the government was doing something.
President Buhari’s so-called three pillars– to secure Nigeria, to revamp the economy and to fight corruption have clearly recorded very low achievements because the current centralist and unitarist governance structure remains unsuitable, unsustainable and counterproductive in a heterogeneous geographical and political space where the different ethnic nationalities or groups of them must be free to govern themselves as they deem fit given the divergent languages, religions, traditions, cultures, artifacts, and folklore of the people.
2. i. The State of the Economy has not witnessed any significant and qualitative upliftment as a result of the centralist and unitarist governance. The fact that FISCAL FEDERALISM has been abandoned since the advent of the military governance and with the landmark decreed appropriation to the central government of the major sources from which the Regions were raising resources to fund their developmental programmes, the atomized/component states since then do very little for Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) since all that is expected of them is to wait for the monthly allocations from the Federation Account, except for very few of the states that can pay their bills without the “Manna from Abuja”.
ii. To compound the matter, the President and his government also failed in his promise to trim government bureaucracy in order to decrease the cost of governance. 5 years into his 8 years tenure, his government has just approved Chief Oronsanye’s Panel recommendations over which Alhaji Ahmed Joda on behalf of President Buhari sat again to review. As we speak today, Nigeria’s recurrent expenditure remains between 75% -80% of the total country’s earning. How can the Nigerian State justifies the disproportionate pay and emoluments of politicians in the midst of abject poverty of most Nigerians. Therefore, it is unfortunate that capital projects remain aspirational but for the new Chinese Colonialist experiment for political and economic influence for which the Asian Leader is giving out conditional loan facilities and on which she is insisting on her own citizens to execute the funded project,—the Kaduna/Abuja, Lagos/Ibadan rail road projects perhaps could have remained on a wish list. CAN WE BE WARY OF 2ND COLONIALISM!
iii. Unemployment is still intolerably high while the standard of living of our people remains intolerably poor. In spite of the social investment programme, Trader money, N-Power projects e.t.c., the latest indicators of the world body on Human Development Index put Nigeria within the bracket of the World War ravaged areas— Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan and others in that category. Given the Godly endowment of Nigeria in Human and Natural resources. Nigeria, and its citizens deserve better qualitative lives.
3. i. The security situation has not significantly improved till date. Yes, Boko Haram an ISIS affiliate has been pushed out of the about 20 LGAS where it established its caliphate before the APC government but it has remained formidable and unsubdued or truly conquered in five years of Major General Buhari’s Civilian presidency. Civilian soft targets and military troops on assignments are still being violently assaulted till date. It’s a grave disappointment that in spite of his efforts he has failed to fulfil his promise to secure the country if elected.
ii. It is equally a painful reality during the current government that herdsmen/bandits from both local and external wings started and are still tormenting Nigerian native farmers. In the North East, North West, North Central, South West, South East, and South-South, there had been the upsurge of herdsmen/bandits incessant attacks, arson on the homes of the natives who are regularly being slaughtered in an undisguised manner of ethnic cleansing of the natives from their land for the Fulani herdsmen to take possession. And there had been evidently programmed support from the government security agencies for the herdsmen who are busy capturing Nigerian’s for ransom and cold murder of a number of Nigerians. And there has been very little or no arrest nor prosecution of these violent actors making it difficult for Nigerian peasant farmers to go and plant their crops and ply their other trades on the firm.
iii. Yet President Buhari insensitively and in gross violation of Section 14(3) of the 1999 constitution has retained the nepotic composition of the “National Security Council” which in reality is “Northern Security Council” thereby ignoring the popular will of Nigerians including the National Assembly to recompose that council to reflect Nigeria. In Federalism, there is no room for nepotism and other failures of governance that has led Nigeria to its present pass.
4. NADECO, therefore restates that the current centralist and unitarist government that has occasioned inequity, unfair play, injustice, discrimination and disrespect for the rule of law within the skewed, warped and lopsided national structure are unsustainable and cannot endure any longer in Nigeria’s heterogeneous society.
5. I. IT IS NADECO’S CATEGORICAL IMPERATIVE THAT THE ETHNIC NATIONALITIES WHICH WERE THE BUILDING BLOCKS UPON WHICH NIGERIA WAS CONSTRUCTED SHOULD MEET IN A GENUINELY REPRESENTATIVES ASSEMBLY WITH THE COPIES OF THE CONSTITUTIONS OF THE REGIONS TO WHICH THEY BELONGED WITH THEIR ETHNIC POSITIONS IN ORDER TO FINALLY ARRIVE AT AN AUTOCHTHONOUS FEDERAL CONSTITUTION FOR NIGERIA. NADECO HEREBY UNEQUIVOCALLY TELLS PRESIDENT BUHARI THAT THE ONLY POSITIVE LEGACY THAT HE SHOULD COMMIT HIMSELF TO IS IN TAKING URGENT STEP TO ACCOMPLISH THIS ALL IMPORTANT MATTER.
ii. Let it be said without any ambiguity that all global countries established by forced cohabitations like Nigeria remain transient. The experiences of the former USSR, Yugoslavia e.t.c were sufficiently illustrative.
Self Determination remains the ANTHEM of this millennium and Nigeria cannot be an island given the painful sacrifices that NADECO and others went through for the restoration of democracy even though what we are operating today still smacks of militarism: never mind all the conspiracy theories that are associated with the criticism of the country’s adherence to undemocratic governance. The world is now a global village.
iii. NADECO commends Nigerians for their resilience, obedience and forbearance in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic. These are trying times and they will come to pass.