Three national leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have canvassed ways to stabilise democracy in Nigeria and warned against any further intervention by the military.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the pioneer chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, spoke at separate forums in Lagos and Osun States on Monday.
The eminent leaders cautioned the military against destabilising the current democratic dispensation through a coup d’etat. They also canvassed electoral reforms and amendment of the 1999 Constitution in order to ensure justice and equity in the polity.
Tinubu, who appeared before the Lagos State House of Assembly, warned against any coup attempt in Nigeria. He said that Nigerians would do anything within the ambit of the laws of the land to defend the hard-earned democracy and resist any attempt to usurp the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Also yesterday, the House of Representatives and former Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Felix Ogbaudu, told the military to remain in the barracks because coups were no longer fashionable.
The lawmakers asserted that democracy at its worst form was still the best form of government.
According to Tinubu, Nigerians would resist any attempt by the military and their accomplices to truncate the country’s civil rule because they have made a choice to be democratic.
Addressing a gathering at the Lagos State House of Assembly during its special parliamentary session in Alausa, Ikeja as part of activities to mark Lagos at 50 and the second anniversary of the 8th Assembly, Tinubu said that the most precious thing Nigerians have today is democracy and any attempt to scuttle it would be resisted.
He urged those with the intention to invite the military to take over government to have a rethink.
The former Lagos State governor said that Nigerians had gone beyond military rule and such thinking was out-dated.
He said those who thought they could scuttle the democracy for which many died and sacrificed their lives were surely living in the past because Nigeria had gone too far for such a thing to happen.
According to him, democracy had come to stay in Nigeria and we must keep it because many people struggled and died for it.
“In the last few days I heard that some people are trying to incite the military to take over power from the present administration. Nigerians sweated and died for this democracy and we will resist and reject any such attempt,” he said.
He added that those few who were working against the democracy in the country were those who benefited from the previous conservative government that refused to lay a good foundation for the nation’s economic development.
“I want to add my voice to that warning of coup attempt. They should not try it. Those who want to break the democracy that many died for… will have no fertile ground to plant the seed in Lagos. It is a bad product and I can assure you that we will reject it. Lagos will resist any form of action that plans to end the democracy we clamoured for in this country. Nigeria has gone too far to invite soldiers to take over government in the country. We are going to reject them. We want them to leave Lagos because Lagosians will reject them,” Tinubu said.
He appealed to the government to create more jobs and development for the people, stressing that Lagos was celebrating not because it had done everything but to join hands to build a more prosperous state.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State thanked the state legislature for the good relation, saying that their support had been instrumental to the development of the state.
The Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Ajayi Obasa, said that despite the trials and odds, the state had been able to overcome them and become one of the best in the country.
At the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Yussuff Lasun, who spoke at a public hearing on 12 bills on the amendment of the 2010 Electoral Act, said: “It might be trivial or trite. But what we have heard in the last two weeks, not because of the position we occupy, but because of the level we are in Nigeria today, military rule is now an aberration.”
“Having practised democracy for 18 years unbroken, I wouldn’t know why some military personnel want to think that it is time again for them to come back to the governance of Nigeria. It is going to be a little bit difficult. Democray at its worst is still the best form of government.”
The Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, said the 12 bills seeking to amend the 2010 Electoral Act were fallouts of the country’s experience in the 2015 general election.
In his comment, Ogbaudu said that “military rule is no longer acceptable anywhere in the world.”
Ogbaudu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday that it would be abnormal for Nigeria to be taken back to the era of military rule, adding that military administration was an aberration, which had caused more havoc than good.
The retired police officer commended the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, for warning military personnel to desist from meddling in politics.
“There is nothing wrong with the statement made by the Chief of Army Staff and as far as I am concerned, it was made in good faith,” he said.
Atiku demands electoral reforms
In his address at the Hero of Nigerian Democracy Awards organised by the Hall of Grace Magazine in Lagos, Atiku said that the time had come to drastically reform the country’s electoral process.
He also called for the reorganisation of the nation’s anti-corruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Atiku, who was honoured with the Hero of Nigerian Democracy Award by the magazine, regretted that the nation’s anti-corruption agencies had been politicised – and had lost their integrity.
The former Vice President, who spoke on the topic: “Building a Nation that Works: My Diary and Way Forward”, reaffirmed his earlier position on restructuring the country. He stressed that the move was the only way forward for a new Nigeria.
He asked the Presidency to hands off the appointment of the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), noting that the commission would be more transparent if its chairman was appointed by the National Judicial Commission (NJC).
Atiku said: ‘We need to restructure our federal system to devolve more powers and resources to the federating units. It will encourage states to compete to attract investment and skilled workers rather than merely waiting for monthly revenue allocations from Abuja. This will also include the establishment of state police for the states that so desire to improve their security.”
“We must be open to changing the nature of the federating units such as using the existing geo-political zones as federating units rather than the current 36 states, of which only a few are financially viable.”
“Unitary federalism, that is, our deformed federal system, is characterised by the centralisation of power and resources, with the resulting excessive dependence on the centre by federating units. That dependence on oil revenues is also a major reason for the fractured and fractious relationship among our various regional, ethnic and religious groups. It has also created a perverse incentive system where rewards do not necessarily go to those who work hard. And the perverse incentive system as well as the mistrust arising from the fractured relationship among our diverse groups, has created entrenched interests, thereby making reform difficult”.
1999 Constitution, bane of national devt – Bisi Akande
Meanwhile, Bisi Akande has said that the current economic recession in the country was caused by the 1999 Constitution (as amended) because it encourages injustice and inequality in the nation.
Akande, a former Governor of Osun State, stated that the constitution was riddled with inequalities as it allowed states with more local government areas even with lesser population to get more allocations than the well-populated ones.
At a meeting in Iwo Town, Osun State, Akande said that the constitution led to the agitations for break-up of the country and the restructuring being canvassed by many Nigerians.
He said: “What we are saying, for instance, is that the constitution, which (according to 1999 census) gave Lagos State with 5,725,153 population 20 local governments, also gave Kano State with 5,810,494 population 44 local governments.”
“The same constitution, which gave Anambra with 2,796,510 population 21 local governments, also gave Jigawa with 2, 875,559 population 27 local governments.”
“Such constitutional provisions seem capable of denying the federating components of Nigeria equal opportunities for accessing the national revenue allocations; hence the agitation for restructuring and resource
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