Àgbà kìí wà l’ójà k’órí omo tuntun wó
With the approach of 2019, VOR is worried by the state of affairs in Nigeria as politicians seem to have abandoned governance and the welfare of the people to crass politicking. It is obvious to clear sighted observers that the present jostling for party tickets and crisscrossing of politicians from one party to the other has nothing to do with the welfare of the people or the country as a whole but for personal ambitions. We note with sadness, the absence of a vibrant opposition, the type we saw in the First Republic which was based on disagreement in policies and not the sharing of offices which we now have. These portend a bad omen for the polity.
Many of the ills currently besetting the country could be traced to the faulty 1999 Constitution as amended. The band-aid approach demonstrated by the current Government (both the Executive and the Legislature) is a ringing testimony to the lack of sincerity of the current political actors to the fundamental nature of the problem. For example, the Executive wants to decentralize the Police while the Legislature wants to create State Police, both driven perhaps mainly by the exigencies of the moment and their current but transient stations in the polity. A new constitution should address national interests not the needs of temporary political office holders. The yearly budget delay and padding, are severe symptoms of a flawed constitution. Nigerians are continually denied the benefits accruable from their resources as appropriated funds are either misapplied or misappropriated.
Based on the above, VOR, at its First Colloquium on 28th June, 2018, in its constructive contribution towards forging a national consensus on the way to save our tottering and increasingly divided Nation, released a Draft Constitution to the Nigerian public.
As the election fever is taking over, and as elders whose duty is to draw attention to lapses so that disaster could be averted, we would like to highlight to the following:-
1. The airwaves are filled with news of illegal importation of arms and ammunition at our ports. A deadly cargo of artillery shells and nerve agents is a deadly mix of apocalyptic and genocidal intents headed to Lagos from Russia was intercepted by South African Authorities. VOR views with extreme concern, the tepid and ambivalent response credited to the ruling party of the Federal Government.
2. The continued headship of all security arms of this administration by a preponderance of people from the north, and of one religion, is not helping matters. The recent pronouncement of the President that the Rule of Law is not sacrosanct is even more worrisome when an intending Senator’s stated sole purpose of going to the Senate is to amend the constitution to accommodate a life tenure for the incumbent president. To any dispassionate observer, this is the onset of dictatorship, which would not augur well for the well being of country.
3. On top of these, there is palpable apprehension in the land based on reports of significant migration of able-bodied men from the North down South, traveling without their families. No formal statement has been made on this to date by any of our representatives. We urge that a definitive statement be made from the appropriate quarters to assure our people that there is no plan afoot to ‘infiltrate’ or ‘encircle’ any part of our nation.
4.The Police Training College in Ikeja Lagos is an epitome of decrepitude and neglect, and has been so for several years. The same can be said of police and army barracks across the country. The Warri and Port Harcourt refineries are in disrepair and virtually non-functional. At the same time, a new digital refinery is planned for Katsina, while the southern oil-producing states of Ondo and Edo are slated to get ‘cattle colonies’. There is visible imbalance in the infrastructural planning and deployment of our resources. For the operation and future development of our nation, such imbalances need to be redressed in a way that gives everybody an equal sense of ownership and participation.
5. With the registration of almost a hundred parties, the voters are bound to be confused and frustrated, thereby paving the way for buying and selling of votes. While the PVC is meant to be used wisely rather than selling same for short term gains, it can only positively affect the electoral fortune of Nigeria when credible candidates emerge from the parties to prepare the ground for economic and developmental integration within the different geopolitical zones.
6. The President came back from his vacation with a promise to jail more corrupt people. VOR agrees that corrupt people should be jailed, however, the President should note that corruption does not begin and end with stealing of public funds. We therefore expect that the recent siege of the NASS shouldn’t end with just the sacking of Daura, the former DG of DSS. There must be a judicial enquiry followed by the diligent prosecution of identified culprits, for the fight against corruption to be holistic and meaningful.
7. VOR is uncomfortable with the encroachment on freedom of speech by indiscriminate arrest of journalists. Likewise, the disobedience of court orders and the high handedness of governors in demolishing houses of political opponents without regard to due process, constitute grave assaults on the Rule of Law. This should stop.
In conclusion, VOR is convinced that Restructuring before the planned 2019 elections is the way to avoid the chaos likely to follow the planned elections. Should the government and the blindly ambitious politicians insist on going ahead, the onus is on the electorate to seize the initiative by ensuring that they only vote for candidates who are committed to Restructuring, irrespective of party affiliations.
Since all politics is local, we urge the people to reject enmasse all old hands and try credible, younger people, irrespective of the party, into the local government and state assemblies as well as the NASS from their locality.
Meanwhile, pending when a proper restructuring is achieved, there are enough blueprints available as provided by DAWN, VOR, other bodies and individuals, to prepare the ground for economic integration within the geopolitical zones.