‘Let’s thank God for 19 years of democracy’
Despite the numerous challenges confronting democratic rule since 1999, founder of Yoruba militia group, Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Fredrick Fasehun said Nigerians deserve to express gratitude for the ability to sustain democracy for 19 years without military incursion.
While addressing the media in Lagos yesterday to mark the 2018 Democracy Day, the OPC founder said, “We have cause to thank God for giving us the grace to be here as living witnesses to the beginning as well as the 19th anniversary of democratic rule in the country.”
According to him, “If there is anything to cheer, it is that against all odds, this current Fourth Republic has broken our previous records of short-lived democracy.“The First Republic ended within seven years, the Second Republic performed even worse, expiring just after its fourth birthday. The Third Republic that should have seen Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola as Nigeria’s most popular president collapsed before it could really take off, despite having state legislatures, state executives and the National Assembly in place.”
But the OPC stalwart lamented that apart from celebrating the longevity of the Fourth Republic, there appears to be little else to cheer, saying the last 19 years have been a continuous trudging in the wilderness. He accused politicians of betraying mandate committed to them through the ballot of failing to relieve the people’s sufferings, but rather behaving like locusts and cankerworms of corruption and ineptitude who significantly increase electorate woes and burdens.
According to him, “This is not the democracy that Abiola died for neither is it the one the likes of Commodore Dan Suleiman, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Chief Frank Kokori, Pa Anthony Enahoro, Chief Adekunle Ajasin and Comrade Chima Ubani laid down their lives to achieve in the 90s?”
Assessing how far the country has fared in the areas of economy, security, polity and social infrastructure, Fasehun said the militarisation of the system since 1999 was a major factor militating against the democratic rule in the country.According to him, “Today, Nigerians appear to be under siege. From the North to the South, from the East to the West, all parts of the country are militarized and turned into a virtual police state.
“The Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (F-SARS) has lost focus. Instead of implementing its primary objective of curtailing armed robbery in the country, it has turned itself to an army of occupation, harassing and pilfering money from innocent citizens. Unfortunately, the government ignored the END-SARS Campaign.” He also chided the government over the lingering Boko Haram insurgency, which he said the Buhari-led administration has been unable to address as expected.
According to him, “The war of attrition unleashed by Boko Haram against defenceless citizens throughout the country continues unabated, nullifying Buhari’s campaign promise to end the insurgency immediately he took over power.
“Worse is the fact that in a classic case of living in denial, the government keeps jumping from one sloganeering to another. One day, government says, ‘We have technically defeated Boko Haram,’ and another day it says, ‘We have significantly defeated Boko Haram.’ But the reality indicates that Boko Haram inflicts as much damage as before, with bombings, abductions and suicide squads going unabated.”
Fasehun said the Buhari government should emulate the Iraq’s termination of ISIS and to also produce a workable roadmap to end the insurgence.He advised the government to sanction military officers who were alleged to be colluding with the Boko Haram for the selfish purpose of prolonging the crisis, saying, “Mr. Buhari should sack officers currently in charge of the Boko Haram campaign and mandate the defence team to end the insurgency within six months.”
In like manner, Fasehun berated the administration for treating the Fulani Herdsmen crisis with levity stressing, “The ruling party has continue to show total disregard for the activities of the armed herdsmen in several parts of the country, including Southern Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and Benue states. The Nigerian government has continued to shield the herdsmen, excusing their killings as a clash between herdsmen and farmers.”
The OPC founder also advised the government on the much-criticised skewed security architecture of the country, which he said was structured to favour a particular section of the country, especially the northern region.According to him, “The current structure of the country’s security architecture is skewed in favour of the President’s ethnic group and religion against others. This is a clear violation of the Constitution, which says in Section 14(3).
“There is no exaggeration to say that the current regime is by far the worst we have had since 1999. It has spent its entire lifespan in a holier-than-thou mode, fighting the judiciary, the legislature, the youth, the governors, the traditional media, the social media, the civil society organisations and the Labour Movement.”
According to him, “The security agencies of government have been reduced into institutions for intimidating and harassing the opposition.He also faulted the anti-graft war of the administration, which he described as using corruption to fight corruption saying, “This undemocratic attitude has succeeded in overheating the polity and endangering our democracy.”
Fasehun added that Buhari’s three years in office have vindicated initial sceptics, who raised the alarm prior to the 2015 general elections about his unwillingness to abide by the universal tenets of democracy.He therefore charged the ruling party not to continue to constitute threat but should endeavour to lead all arms of the executive in the protection and continued sustenance of Nigeria’s democracy, in collaboration with the legislature, judiciary, media and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).
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