Text of a World Press Statement Issued By June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formation in commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the June 12, 1993, presidential elections, on June 12 2014
Dear Compatriots, today 12th of June 2014 marks the 21st anniversary of June 12 1993 Presidential election which was and is still acclaimed globally as the freest and fairest ever conducted election in the political history of Nigeria.
It was a great day in which the people of diverse ethnic nations occupying the geographical space called Nigeria exhibited the unifying spirit of a united people, jettisoning all divisive sentiments and spoke with one voice, but unfortunately, the peoples mandate was treasonably annulled by the Ibrahim Babangida junta and thus began a tortuous struggle to emancipate the people from all forms of colonization and slavery and the consequences is what we are still living with till today.
June 12 represented hope and a new beginning for the people of Nigeria in charting a course for their political destiny anchored by the late President elect, Bashorun MKO Abiola political manifesto which was “Farewell to poverty”.
Unfortunately, after 15 years of navigating this democratic path, we must but ask ourselves in view of our experiences from the June 12 struggle that, how have the people fared? What are the lessons learnt from the struggle in this fourth republic? Are we on track with the ideals that June 12 represented?
These and many more questions have informed this discuss namely:
Corruption and Impunity
Press Censorship and Freedom of Assembly
Labour Unrest and Mass Unemployment
Remuneration of Elected Office Holders
National Conference:When President Goodluck Jonathan mooted the idea of the national conference and set up a committee to midwife it, millions of Nigerians including the June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations were very apprehensive because what we have always clamoured for as a panacea to rescue Nigeria from the abyss was a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) to chart the path for political restructuring, but so far, the National Conference as presently constituted and the way it has been carrying out its assignment with regard to some of its resolutions runs contrary to the principles of true federalism. In essence, this conference has missed the path.
Corruption and Impunity:The level of corruption under the present political leadership is mind boggling. Nigeria has become a failed state due to the culture of impunity and corruption which pervades the land as political office holders are not responsible and responsive to the yearnings and aspirations of the people. The political elites have become so enmeshed in the culture of primitive accumulation at the expense of societal interest. Corruption in the polity is a consequence of the warped federation which concentrates power in the hands of the few and the only way out is through political restructuring.
Press Censorship and Freedom of Assembly:We condemn in strong terms the ongoing barbaric, crude, illegal and unconstitutional assault on freedom of the press and economic rights of Nigerians by the military in the guise of the fight against terrorism. We must warn that this clampdown on freedom to information is a violation of the constitution and a sad reminder of the days of despotic military dictatorship which must be condemned in its entirety.
We owe it a duty to admonish the military that it must be civil and subservient to the constitution in the discharge of its duties. We also condemn the flagrant abuse of people’s fundamental right to association and assembly as guaranteed under the constitution by the security agencies in violently dispersing peaceful protesters.
Insecurity: The Coalition is bewildered by the gradual slide of our country into a state of anarchy through the commission of violent crimes resulting in colossal loss of human lives and destruction. We condemn the kidnap of the Chibok school girls and other acts of criminality and demand their immediate rescue.
Presently, the war against terrorism is being waged on a large scale in the north east of Nigeria which is under emergency rule and these acts of terrorism has become a national phenomena with no part of the country being exempted. We have observed and must point out that this war cannot be won by poorly equipped, motivated and indisciplined security agencies, thus the government is enjoined to wake up to its constitutional responsibility of securing lives and properties. The culture of buck passing by Mr. President is condemnable.
Education: The June 12 coalition condemns in strong terms the obnoxious fee hike in public schools nationwide which has resulted in social unrest and calls on governments to immediately reverse this anti people’s policy which is capable of breeding a country of uninformed people who cannot contribute meaningfully to national development.
We are shocked to learn that about 10 million children of school age are out of school and governments at various levels have not deemed this to be a national tragedy requiring urgent attention, definitely, we are sitting on a keg of gun powder. We are pained and condemn in strong terms the lingering polytechnic lecturers’ strike which has been on for over 9 months and calls on the authorities and other stakeholders in the education sector to find a lasting solution to the crisis so that our students can return back to school and our future as a country is not jeopardized.
Labour Unrest and Mass Unemployment:The Coalition is saddened by the state of our labour force that is gradually thinning out on a daily basis. The productive capacity is dropping at an alarming rate as a result of factories and business closures due to lack of basic infrastructures like electricity, water, roads, etc which has resulted in mass unemployment and a worsening poverty level.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report released in April 2014, no fewer than 5.3 million youths are jobless in the country, while 1.8 million graduates enter the labour market every year. The tragedy of the Nigeria Immigration service recruitment early this year is a sad reminder of this time bomb that is waiting to explode. The general state of insecurity in the country is accentuated by this mass unemployment of our teeming able bodied men and women.
We call on all government agencies and parastatals to ensure prompt payments of gratuities and pensions of disengaged workers in order to allow them keep up with their family responsibilities, prevent avoidable illnesses and premature deaths. The Coalition calls on governments at all levels to reduce wastages and judiciously use scarce resources to put in place basic and functional infrastructures like water, roads, electricity, etc to generate employment.
Undemocratic Tendencies:The June 12 coalition condemns the undemocratic tendencies of political office holders which is heating up the political climate and is capable of undermining our democracy and societal peace. We call on the political elites to eschew political bitterness by being faithful in playing according to the rules by displaying maturity, civility and love for fatherland with regards to national issues.
Remuneration of Elected Office Holders:The remuneration of elected public officials in Nigeria is unacceptable by any standard. The remuneration of our elected public officials is mind-boggling and not commensurate with reality. The Nigerian state uses over 70% of the National budget to service less than 10,000 persons while the rest of about 160 million persons are left with less than 30% to take care of their interest. In a true federalism, states will only pay according to what they can afford rather than this uniform pay structure which only encourages indolence, financial scandals and criminality. The type of legislature that we want to operate at the centre will also be discussed appropriately at the (SNC).
Sovereign National Conference (SNC) Now!
Once again, the June 12 Coalition of Democratic Formations (J12CODEF) is using this medium to admonish all and sundry that the only and genuine way out of this keg of gun powder on which we are sitting lies in the immediate convocation of a genuine Sovereign National Conference (SNC) of ethnic nationalities where we would all sit down to discuss and give birth to a country where our economic, social and political rights will be accorded its deserved dignity. The Sovereign National Compass (SNC) is the compass that the Nigerian ship urgently needs to guide us on the path to true federalism and the time is now!
Alfred Ilenre Nelson Ekujumi
Acting Chairman General Secretary
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