The rift between the Presidency and National Assembly has the potential to derail the gains of democracy if not handled with care, civil society organisations have warned.
The groups on Thursday urged the Presidency and the National Assembly to put personal differences aside and concentrate on lifting up the floundering fortunes of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
A statement the Civil Society Coalition for Mandate Protection and the Nigerian Human Rights Community said both the Presidency and the National Assembly have the historic responsibility to put public interest above personal gains.
The groups urged Nigerians to prepare for unprecedented mass rallies, ongoing regime of violence and fascism, impunity and attempts to subvert the people’s will.
The groups warned that bitter feud between the Presidency and the National Assembly can consume the country is not well handled.
The groups noted that major past crisis in Nigeria, including the civil war, could be traced to dispute between personalities arising from politics, which snowballed into national crisis and even war as it happened in the 1960s.
Over 60 groups met in Lagos on Thursday under the auspices of the CSC-MAP and NHRC.
Some of the groups at the meeting included the Centre for Media Advocacy and Research Network, Journalists for Democratic Rights, Rural Community Peoples’ Agenda, Civil Liberties Organisation, Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association (umbrella organization of all mechanics in Nigeria), Supreme Egbesu Assembly, Southern Nigeria and Middle Belt Forum for Development and United Middle Belt Congress.
In the joint statement issued after the meeting, the groups stated: “We urge the Presidency to learn from history and handle every political issue with the greatest caution. The sovereignty of the National Assembly must be respected. The National Assembly and its officials must also conduct themselves with utmost respect for law and the kernel principles of justice bearing in mind that the law of the land is supreme.”
The statement was signed by Adewal Adeoye for Journalists for Democratic Rights; Popoola Ajayi, Nigerian Human Rights Community; Samson Adekoya for Civil Society Coalition for Mandate Protection; Deji Omotoyinbo for Network of Community Based Organisations; Fikayo Adebosin, for Green Peoples Environmental Network; Comrade David Ajetunmobi, for Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association; Peter Ogunsona, for South West Progressive Youth Movement; Comrade Abdul Motajo, Coalition for Labour and Workers’ Solidarity; Chief Digifa Werenipre, for Egbesu Supreme Assembly; and Abuka Onalo for United Middle Belt Youth Congress.
The groups said both the Presidency and the National Assembly should handle every strand of disagreement with compassion for democracy and the greatest good of the greatest number.
The groups said most Nigerians have become poorer and that the incessant killings of innocent people, including women and children across the country, represent one of the greatest threats to stability in the country.
On the June 12 honours for Chief MKO Abiola and Gani Fawehinmi, the groups said the honours were worthy, adding however that the greatest justice would be the restitution for the wrong done to all the victims of human rights violations in that era.
The statement said: “Life is very hard for the average Nigerian. The economy has only improved on paper. In real life, many Nigerians are living on the horrifying edge of misery, pains and death. In the Middle Belt and many parts of the country, killings and bloodshed are daily occurrences. Human lives no longer mean anything. This is certainly not the country of our dream. More than anything else, these issues should be of critical concern to political leadership.”
The groups urged Nigerians to unite against emerging fascist tendencies and save the country from self-serving leaders who are less endowed but by share access to the Presidency have chosen to keep the country in perpetual bondage.