Begin debate on true federalism now, PGF tells National Assembly
Blames ruling elite for #EndSARS protest
The Director General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), Dr. Salihu Lukman, has enjoined the National Assembly to immediately commence deliberation on the clamour for true federalism in the country.
Lukman said it would be in the best interest of the country if the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led APC committee recommendations on the issue are subjected to debate for constitutional and legal amendments in the National Assembly.
In a statement titled “Nigerian Democracy and Challenge of Interests’ Negotiation”, Lukman said it beats his imagination that the ruling elite found it convenient to mobilise support for electoral contests but impossible to consider matters that affect the wellbeing of the nation.
He warned that without the capacity by the citizenry to negotiate interests and broker compromises, democracy and the corporate existence of the nation would fail.
“Both citizens and political leaders must take the urgent necessary steps to be on the same page and transform all our political structures into active platforms for interest negotiations. Why should we have political parties that are only platforms for electoral contests?
“Why is it difficult for our elective and appointive political leaders to engage demands of citizens? Why should we have trade unions, civil society, youth and women organisations whose activities are now more noticeable if only they are able to organise protests and strikes?
“Beyond serving as affirmative action for freedom of association and right to freely protests and organise strikes, what is the value of those protests and strikes? In fact, what is the value of our democracy?
“Democratic development should be about the significant compromises brokered and the extent to which citizens, on account of the compromises, are able to feel a sense of belonging. Any democracy can be adjudged to be working well if through the different compromises it produces, citizens are able to feel a sense of belonging,” the DG said.
He blamed the ruling elites for the recent #EndSARS protests, stressing the need to negotiate with the organisers to chart the way forward on the governance of the country.
“The terrifying situation now is that our young people have joined the crowd of angry population largely because of the perception that any demand they make become disagreeable to our political leaders and, therefore, classified as rebellion, which must be crushed.
“On the other hand, there is also the weakness on the part of citizens, which affect their capacity to take responsibility through sacrifices and demonstrate respect for others, including political leaders. Citizens want leaders to initiate responses to our political challenges and we present such demands by abusing and criminalising our political leaders.
“How can there be any political negotiation when the language is abusive? Combinations of inability to take responsibility and hostile political environment, which doesn’t support negotiation, create the perilous situation whereby the last protest of young Nigerians against police brutality in the country was organised with undercover or virtual leadership,” he said.