‘Giant of Africa’ Turns 61: CISLAC expresses worry over rumble in NGF – Vanguard
As the ‘Giant of Africa’ Nigeria, attains the age of 61 on Friday, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Friday, expressed worry over rumble in Nigerian Governors Forum, NGF, as Northern Governors and Southern Governors fight over zoning of presidency ahead of 2023 presidential election with other pertinent and burning issues since 1999.
The was contained in a statement signed by Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Chairman Transition Monitoring, TMG, Auwal Rafsanjani.
CISLAC noted that in the 22 years after the transition from military rule to democratic dispensation, the country’s enduring democracy has undergone series of difficulties, however acknowledged that a lot can be done to take the country to where it needs to be.
The statement reads in part, “The Northern Governor’s and Southern Governor’s Forums are having their little fights over the zoning of the presidency. It is hard to imagine how a 61-year-old country could be so at loggerheads with itself.
“Separation of Powers seems almost non-existent as the Executive Continues to flex its muscles on the other two arms of government. Its most recent interference in the top leadership of the other arms of government signals its intent to limit Checks and Balances in the country.
“Weeks before the 2019 general elections, the Supreme Court Chief Justice Walter Onnoghen was banned from holding public office for 10 years on a conviction of falsely declaring his assets by failing to reveal money held in five foreign bank accounts and ordered to give up the money.”
The statement also alleged that President Muhammadu Buhari failed to follow due process as he “did not gain the support of two-thirds of the Senate and recommendation from the National Judicial Council for the suspension of the CJ.
“Shortly after the 2019 elections, a heated contest for the Senate Presidency was settled by interference from the Executive. The election of Ahmed Lawan was marred by accusations of corruption. The Attorney General evoked a nolle prosequi in a 5 billion Naira EFCC case against Senator Danjuma Goje and withdrew the case from court. In return, Goje dropped from the race for the senate presidency and endorsed Lawan.
“While the two cannot be directly linked to meddling by the executive in the affairs of NASS, it can be added that the whole scenario unfolded after a meeting between Goje and President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The first tenure of Buhari and those of past presidents also saw the harassment of lawmakers by DSS personnel, accusations of bribery and duress in post-election tribunals, discerning judgments by courts on similar issues, and non-adherence to court orders.
“It is a similar story at the State level as lack of autonomy for Local Government, States Assembly, and States Judiciary has made governance a one-way ticket in most states of the federation despite an Executive Order to effect them and several states passing and assenting to legislation to that effect.
“The dire security situation in the country can be best summed up by 8 states – Anambra, Imo, Rivers, Niger, Kaduna, Benue, Borno and Yobe – in 5 geo-political zones being attacked on the same day in late April this year. The perpetrators are bandits, kidnappers, Boko Haram and “unknown gunmen” but that is not what summed up the security situation. Not a single elected official visited any of the crime scenes and the country moved on as if nothing had happened.”
Pointing out the dwindling voices on call for state police as one of the panaceas to tackle insecurity, the statement pointed that some regions in the country and individuals have resorted to self-help with little success.
“Borno State has witnessed the emergence of a local vigilante, the Civilian JTF to counter the threat of Boko haram. Amotekun has emerged in the South-West with huge support from the geo-political zone’s governors which ensured a face-off with the Federal Government. In February 2020, a private group, the Northern Nigeria Security Initiative launched the short-lived security outfit, Shege Ka Fasa, emulating the Amotekun.
“The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) launched its security outfit, the Eastern security Network (ESN) to counter security threats. Different states and communities have at one point or the other engaged the services of hunters and local vigilantes to protect the lives and property of citizens and maintain the very fragile law and order.
“Most of the recent security challenges are new or evolved from existing ones – farmer-herders clashes have been an age-old problem but the recent flow of illegal arms into Sub-Saharan Africa has heightened it.
“All solutions to fix it have ended almost as fast as they came as the Federal Government has failed to unite all stakeholders behind its plans. The plan for RUGA was widely rejected and the decision to resuscitate old grazing routes was followed by many southern states enacting Anti-Open Grazing Laws.
“While reports of the origins of Boko Haram are varied, many are of the view that it has links to Mai Tatsine terrorist Group. Boko Haram along with the breakaway group, the Islamic State in West Africa have survived the declaration of state of emergencies, the Civilian JTF, over a decade-long military onslaught, billions of Dollars spent on training, arms and ammunitions, mercenaries and technical assistance, and government’s offer of amnesty and rehabilitation efforts.
“The groups have conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets, seizing towns and local governments, killing thousands, and displacing millions”, it pointed.
Still on insecurity matters, the statement indicated that, “The end to armed robbery seems to have come not from the government’s efforts but from organized crime evolving to meet up with the times.
“The evolution of the banking industry has resulted in the move to kidnapping across various inter and intrastate roads, and communities as the more lucrative criminal venture. Thousands of citizens and over a thousand students have been taken by an industry that is milking billions out of citizens.
“Bandits also launched a daring attack on the Nigerian Defence Academy this year. The recent deactivation of the GSM network in some states in the northwest and various economic and security measures cannot provide a definitive conclusion of the success of the new drive against bandits in the region. In the long-term, it will be seen how the measures have affected the region and insecurity in general.”
On election matters the statement reads in part, “In 2018, the President assented to the Not Too Young to Run act limiting the age to contest for political offices in Nigeria, opening up opportunities to the country’s young population. However, a review of past Constitutions shows that the age limit for the State House of Assembly was as low as 21 years, four years less than the newly assented to the age of 25.
“The 2019 elections saw lower voter participation which is attributed to violence and military participation in electoral processes. There were also reports of INEC’s resident electoral commissioners (RECs) being intimidated by DSS operatives.
“There were also reports of vote-buying, meaning results may not portray the will of the electorate.
“The participation of women is also believed to have dropped to an all-time low, especially in the National Assembly, while persons with disabilities have never really gotten a look in apart from being nominated for party positions reserved for them.
“It will be seen how INEC’s deployment of electronic voting will go in solving some of the challenges.”
Pointing its searchlight on calls for restructuring, it reads, “Agitations have risen amidst calls for restructuring and cries over marginalization by sections of the populace. Some of the agitations have led to calls for secessions to form Biafra and Oduduwa Republic by the Southeast and South-South, respectively.
“In the North, Shiites have been at loggerheads with the Federal Government and the Middle-Belt has its agitations.
“Football and the NYSC program that have been the two major tools for unity are losing flavour because of insecurity and poor performance of the national team.
However, beaming its searchlight on human rights abuses in Nigeria, the statement made it clear that a lot of observers are of the view that not much has changed since the transition to democracy in 1999 as the military continues to operate with impunity and there have been strong allegations of human rights abuses against the Police as well.
“Such allegations included arbitrary, unlawful, or extrajudicial killings. Security personnel are not held accountable for such actions and committees of inquiry do not usually conclude their findings or such findings are never made public.
Raising the alarm over alleged disappearance of some anti-government activists but to appear in DSS custody, and these have also led to internationally recognized ENDSARS protests.
The statement concludes by looking into, “The raging debate and legal battle over VAT collection would shape the future of the country. Success for the states will mean restructuring champions will continue to look for loopholes in the constitution to effect change.
“While a victory for the Federal Government could leave things stagnant, it could also be an opportunity for a national dialogue that could help the nation find common ground.”
However, in its recommendations, the statement indicated that, “The government should continue to exploit the tax credit scheme as it represents a victory for both government and the private sector.
“We should also try to continue with the linking of NIN with SIM Cards and come up with a unified database as that could help curb crime and give the government the needed data to provide for each part of the population development that meets its demands.
Vanguard News Nigeria