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CISLAC Commemorates Nigeria @ 62, Expresses Worries in Critical Areas

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) commemorates all Nigerians and government at all levels on the occasion of the 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.

The Executive Director, CISLAC/Head of Transparency International Chapter in Nigeria, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani) in an independence message on Saturday said in the spirit of commemoration, we are duty bound to reiterate the concerns of common Nigerians and proffer sustainable measures to address challenges backpedaling realization of transparent, accountable democratic governance at all levels.

This includes the fast-approaching 2023 general elections that have in recent times triggered topical developments putting to question the 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 restoring and institutionalizing electoral governance and uprooting 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 the efforts of judicial staff and anti-corruption operatives in upholding justice, persistent political interference in the appointment and justice process constitutes major sabotage and threat to the criminal justice system and staff respectively.

Just as political disobedience to the rule of law results in public distrust in the judiciary, undermines human rights and freedom as well as civic space at all levels in Nigeria; coupled with growing intolerance, lingering socio-economic inequalities, and poor and mismatched response to issues at policy levels.

We are worried about 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, the 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 to the nation’s development.

Moreover, the 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 the resultant high cost of governance that backpedals the development of the critical sectors in Nigeria, many states are caught in ill-thought efforts to institutionalize diversion and embezzlement. This opacity impedes socio-economic development with a negative impact on macroeconomic stability, job creation, and other socio-economic activities that drive the growth and development of Nigeria.

Our Prayers:

1.   Full commitment to the implementation of the Electoral (Amendment) Act in all spheres of the electoral process to uphold total transparency and integrity in 2023 elections and beyond.

2.   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 standardized operational procedures as well as openness and transparency in the investigation process and procedures.

3.   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 a privilege.

4.   Strict adherence to the rule of law enhances democratic values in Nigeria, with a demonstrated commitment to the principles of responsibility and responsiveness for good governance.

5.   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.

6.   Independent legislatures and strengthened legislative capacity for adequate oversight of institutions and processes.

7.   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.

8.   Sincere effort by relevant authorities to address pervasive insecurity, unemployment, and poverty with a strong emphasis on true federalism and Local Government Autonomy to enable impactful democratic dividend and sustainable development at the grassroots.

9.   Clearly defined policy framework with comprehensive mutual benefit to address existing communal challenges and compensate victims of social injustice and marginalization to foster national integrity.

10.   Targeted policy/legislative effort to reduce the high cost of governance that hamper budgetary performance and adequate allocation to the ailing critical sector.

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