Posted by Sharafa Fatai Olamilekan | 27 December 2019 | 1,015 times
I was privileged to attend the Nigeria Pro-Democracy Conference held at Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, August 17, 2019.
The conference, which had as theme, Reviving popular action for democracy and freedom in Nigeria, was another fruitful event that I have ever attended when it comes to proffering long lasting solutions to the lacerated democracy and the ‘caged’ freedom in Nigeria.
Nigeria has experienced 20 years of civil rule but the way we are being propelled makes one wonder if actually Nigeria fought for democracy or it was given to us with conditions. Some valid points were made at the conference in which I would like to share to the public for enlightenment purpose, because there is this popular saying that 'if you are not informed, you will be misinformed'. These are highlighted below:
1. Freedom and Poverty. In the reality aspect, freedom is limited to some set of people in a society where class division is inflicted, and this is ubiquitous. Nigeria is not excluded. One of the comrades that contributed to the discourse explained his experience at the Kirikiri Prison. He said that when he engaged some of the prisoners, he realises that some of them were convicted of what they knew nothing about. The worst case is that these victimised prisoners did not have lawyer to fight for them because they don’t have the resources. Some people are charged for not having means of livelihood. While the ruling class on the other hand, who usually embezzle public fund into their private pocket have their means of escaping jail as a result of their influence and connection. I also get to understand that freedom is of no value where there is poverty because we cannot build democracy on empty stomach. These lead to a germane question: Whose democracy? The question evolves as a result of the class division and we need to clarify our aim when fighting for democracy. Freedom for who?
2. Theoretical separation of powers. People usually believe that until Nigeria produce a leader that can rule Nigeria with iron hand, Nigeria will not get it right. But my opinion seems to be different, my experience at the conference made me realises that what Nigeria actually need are ‘iron’ institutions, it means that the institutions need to be vibrant and independent.
Nigeria’s institutions are emasculated and it does not depict the image of separation of power in reality, It is evident in the speech of the incumbent Senate President’s speech, Ahmed Lawan when he declared that “anything policy that the executive forward to the legislature will be accepted”. This speech actually frustrated intellectuals to question the capability of the institution.
3. Rule of law in isolation. Disregard for court order, illegal invasion of the National House of Assembly, unlawful detention actually portrays the callousness or desperation of the government to perpetuate power, and it throws the question of whether we have rule of law in Nigeria or it has been swept into isolation. The media have showed their antagonism against these unconstitutional act in which they tagged the president as a “General”. This antagonism started from one particular media and it later radiated, the result drew the attention of the international communities in which they, in return, reacted to the unfortunate scenarios.
4. The state of the nation in general. Currently, Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa. It is interesting to also know that more people are living in abject poverty in Nigeria than in any other country in the World and over a million Nigerian are living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp. Nigeria government are seeking $30 billion loan in which the senate has approved, the loan is huge that covers the 2018 budget and part of the 2019 budget. So many others observations were propounded and all these observations are what we all observes in our day to day activities, our central problem is that we believe there is no solution that we curb these anomalies. This article will not pass without providing solutions to the rotten and damaged democracy and the derailed system we find ourselves. The solutions are as follows;
First and foremost, we need to rebuild our mindset from being a partial pessimist to a core optimist, by virtue of that, we also need to impart knowledge on other laymen in the society who have lost hope in the restructuring of our systems and institutions. The figure of voter from the 2019 general elections portrays the fact that the number of people that have lost hope in the rebuilding of our nation is skyrocketing, we can make use of this narrow opportunity by illuminating them on how to rehabilitate our disconfigured system through radical path.
The overwhelming and large amount of revenue that is being disbursed to the government parastatals makes it a do-or-die affair game. The best solution is, while the clamour for the implementation of the new minimum wages is trending, there should be clamour that the elected and appointed political office holder should be put on workers salary scale. By so doing, the political monsters will be deprecated to venture into politics. After all, it is a call to serve, not for business.
All these above mentioned solutions would only be made possible if and only if we have the conglomeration of workers and masses organisations that have the interest of the workers as their priority.
According to one of the discussants, “One thousand retweet, although helps when it comes to pressuring, but it is not as visible as having one thousand people on the street demonstrating their grievances. It is one thing to clamour for change, it is another thing entirely to take the right path to change.”
•Sharafa Fatai Olamilekan writes from Lagos and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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