-By Auwal Ibrahim Musa
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) commemorates with all Nigerians and government at all levels on the occasion of 62nd Independence celebrations.
We on this occasion acknowledge and commend the sacrifices and aspirations of our founding fathers, who through their doggedness worked tirelessly in anticipation of a united, democratic, peaceful and more prosperous nation, Nigeria.
In the spirit of commemoration, we are duty bound to reiterate concerns of common Nigerians and proffer sustainable measures to address challenges backpedaling realisation of transparent ,accountable democratic governance at all levels.
This includes the fast-approaching 2023 general elections that has in recent times triggered topical developments putting to questions credibility, transparency and integrity of the electoral process and institutions. We on this note stress our position that adequate commitment to full implementation of the Electoral (Amendment) Act remains highly paramount to restore and institutionalise electoral governance and uproot impunity in Nigeria’s electoral system.
Likewise, the increasing engagement of hate-speeches and derogatory words among some politicians and their supporters, who are thoughtless of possible consequences on the political transition, peace and overall unity of the country.
We are perturbed by deliberately instituted challenges frustrating independent institutions and governance like disobedience to the rule of law, partially-independent judiciary and legislatures, and discouraged anti-graft institutions. While we applaud efforts of judicial staff and anti-corruption operatives in upholding justice, persistent political interference in appointment and justice process constitutes a major sabotage and threat to criminal justice system and staff respectively.
Just as political disobedience to the rule of law results in public distrust in judiciary, undermines human rights and freedom as well as civic space at all levels in Nigeria; coupled with growing intolerance, lingering socio-economic inequalities, poor and mismatched response to issues at policy levels.
We are worried by weakening legislative oversight on the executives and processes that paves way for eroded public transparency and accountability among all levels of institutions reportedly soaked in unchecked mismanagement, monumental embezzlement and endemic corruption. This includes the recent counter-productive development in the Defence and Security sector, where appropriated funds are diverted to private pockets through a secluded procurement process, impacting negatively on the efficiency of military and security operations in Nigeria.
More importantly, 62years after the independence, majority of Nigerians are faced with real-time poverty, gross inequality, and injustice resulting from insensitive policies and inactions of successive administrations to peoples’ plights, expectations and aspirations. We are seriously concerned by the ongoing development in Nigeria’s ailing education system, where unattended industrial actions have widened existing gaps in quality education attainment and education inequality among youths of varied backgrounds. This may deny the youth opportunity to meaningfully earn and contribute positively towards the nation’s development.
Moreover, high cost of governance has hitherto impacted gravely on resource availability for investment into critical sectors that would have driven development. Despite the alarming recurrent expenditures with resultant high cost of governance that backpedals development of critical sector in Nigeria, many states are caught in ill-thought efforts to institutionalise diversion and embezzlement. This opacity impedes socio-economic development with negative impact on macro-economic stability, job creation and other socio-economic activities that drive growth and development of Nigeria.
- Full commitment to the implementation of Electoral (Amendment) Act in all spheres of electoral process to uphold total transparency and integrity in 2023 elections and beyond.
- Drastic and genuine policy effort to promote independence in the system, process and appointments of judicial and anti-graft institutions. This includes Intensive capacity building for anti-graft operatives on standardised operational procedures as well as openness and transparency in investigation process and procedures.
- Unconditional respect for human rights of the citizens irrespective of their socio-economic and political status at all levels including recognition of their freedom of expression as a Constitutional right and not privilege.
- Strict adherence to the rule of law enhances democratic values in Nigeria, with demonstrated commitment to the principles of responsibility and responsiveness for good governance.
- Total civility in electoral campaigns, public debates and commentaries by politicians and their supporters to prevent divisive statements that have a tendency of creating disunity in the country.
- Independent legislatures and strengthened legislative capacity for adequate oversight on institutions and processes.
- Adequate and sustainable policy response to the challenges bedeviling critical sectors of the economy including the recurring industrial actions widening education inequality in the country.
- Sincere effort by relevant authorities to address pervasive insecurity, unemployment and poverty with strong emphasis on true federalism and Local Government Autonomy to enable impactful democratic dividend and sustainable development in the grassroots.
- Clearly defined policy framework with comprehensive mutual benefit to address existing communal challenges and compensate victims of social injustice and marginalisation to foster national integrity.
- Targeted policy/legislative effort to reduce high cost of governance that hamper budgetary performance and adequate allocation to the ailing critical sector.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) is the Executive Director of CISLAC and Head of Transparency International Chapter in Nigeria