Nigeria Sliding Toward Despotism, Says Atiku
Atiku Abubakar, former vice president and presidential hopeful of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has warned against what he called a consistent pattern of departure from constitutional due process to tendencies of authoritarianism.
Abubakar called on all political actors to let June 12 and all that it embodied inspire them to promote democratic principles, especially as Nigeria is about to go to the polls again.
The former vice president said in a statement marking the 25th anniversary of the June 12, 1993, presidential election that there was a growing culture of arbitrariness in some of the institutions of government at all levels that was contradictory to the notion of inclusiveness and fairness that a democratic society guaranteed.
In the statement released on Monday, in Abuja, Atiku noted that the very foundation of a democratic society was the guarantee of fundamental human rights that gives the citizenry the freedom of speech, freedom of movement, and the ability of the people to belong to any lawful association that they were inclined to.
He noted that it was the exclusive responsibility of the state, through the various security organisations, to see to the protection of these fundamental rights of the people.
According to him, it became an anathema in a democracy if institutions of government began to act in negation of those noble objectives.
Recalling the recent campaign by youths across the country against the brutality of the anti-robbery unit of the Nigeria police, Atiku noted that up till now there had yet to be a fundamental reform in the operations of that unit.
He said: “Today, across our major cities and even in the hinterlands, citizens – especially the youths – can hardly walk freely in open avenues without the police stopping them to search through the contents of their mobile handsets.
“Civil servants now lose their jobs just because they choose to criticise politicians in government positions.
“There are even suggestions in some quarters that civil servants should be barred from signing into social media networks.
“Opposition politicians are regularly being hounded on wanton criminal and civil prosecutions.
“In many of the states across the country, there is a reign of fascism with governors who have suddenly become overlords dealing ruthlessly with anyone who dares to challenge their ruthless foothold of intimidation and oppression.
“Perhaps at this point, we need to remind ourselves that the democracy which we enjoy today did not come at a cheap price.
“It came at the cost of supreme price paid by persons that included Chief MKO Abiola, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, Maj-Gen Shehu Yar’Adua, Chief Alfred Rewane, and Bagauda Kaltho, among thousands of other patriots.”
Atiku argued that democracy wasn’t merely a mechanism of appointing a government, and that its beauty was in the inherent safeguard to the citizenry to live and prosper as free people under the law.
Recognition Of June 12 Will Rekindle Nationalism—Nwosu
Meanwhile, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, Chairman of the defunct National Electoral Commission (NEC), has said that the June 12 inauguration today in Abuja will rekindle the national consciousness of all Nigerians for a better nation, apologising that he would not be available for the event.
He, however, praised President Muhammadu Buhari for recognising June 12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day and for honouring the memory of Chief MKO Abiola, the presumed winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election.
The message from Prof Nwosu came via a letter he wrote to the presidency and copied Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In the letter, Professor Nwosu, who presided over the historic poll that was later annulled by the military junta headed by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said the conferment of national honours on Chief Abiola and his running mate, Amb. Babagana Kingibe, “will rekindle the national consciousness of all Nigerians for a better nation.”
Part of the letter reads: “I thank His Excellency, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, and the Federal Government of Nigeria for recognising June 12 as Democracy Day, and also honouring the winner of June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
“Indeed, June 12, 1993 marked a turning point in Nigeria’s tortuous journey towards a democratic polity.
“It is an honour to the very hard-working men and women of the defunct National Electoral Commission under my leadership at this long-awaited recognition. I humbly commend this action by the president.
“Undoubtedly, the democratic system of governance is the best, especially for the multi-ethnic nation like ours.
“I thank you for building on the foundation which my team and I laboured strenuously to establish and actualise on June 12, 1993.
“It is our hope that expanding the frontiers of democracy of which all the people of Nigeria, regardless of ethnic group, will provide economic, social, and developmental benefits that will certainly make Nigeria a great nation not only in Africa but across the world.
“Certainly, the scheduled event on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 will rekindle the national consciousness of all Nigerians for a better nation.
“Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I will not be present at the investiture ceremony as I am outside the country,” he wrote.