‘Emer­gency rule is a threat to democ­racy’ Olufemi Aduwo is the na­tional co­or­di­na­tor of the Rights Mon­i­tor­ing Group (RMG). In this in­ter­view, he says emer­gency rule is a threat to democ­racy. Ex­cerpts:

Daily Trust - - INSIDE POLITICS - By Ab­bas Ji­moh

With the present in­se­cu­rity in the North­east, do you see the chances of INEC hold­ing elec­tions in the states un­der emer­gency rule?

At the be­gin­ning, the federal govern­ment did some­thing like test run­ning where the emer­gency rule was de­clared in some lo­cal govern­ment ar­eas, it did not work. It back-fired. Now it is go­ing to one year now and it has not worked, so you have to change tac­tics. It is only in Nigeria that you can hear state of emer­gency like that in short time. It has to be a long term af­fair to get to the root of the cri­sis. As I talk now, I don’t think the Mil­i­tary know the strength of Boko Haram, if you want to fight the en­emy, one of the first things to know is the strength of your en­emy, the lo­gis­tics, so the emer­gency is a threat to our democ­racy. We must get al­ter­na­tives to end this cri­sis. Con­trary to what many be­lieve, di­a­logue is still the best op­tion, this is what Amer­ica is do­ing about the in­sur­gency they are tack­ling though they pre­tend they were not di­a­logu­ing with the in­sur­gents they were tack­ling, even though through proxy, there are many ways of fight­ing in­sur­gency.

The govern­ment has in­sti­tuted di­a­logue mech­a­nisms in the past that seems to have failed, how do you want govern­ment to go about this?

Govern­ment never said they wanted to di­a­logue. Re­mem­ber that there was the Min­is­ter of Spe­cial Du­ties com­mit­tee. He de­ceived Nige­ri­ans; he told us the Boko Haram agreed to lay down their arms, when he never spoke to any Boko Haram. In an ideal so­ci­ety, this would not hap­pen. You lied to the govern­ment, and you never do any­thing at the end of the day it was zero. Even people in govern­ment are not sin­cere, their state­ments and ac­tions are even worse than Boko Haram. These people are known and I be­lieve there is a way we can all re­solve this, the is­sue of Mil­i­tary is not work­ing, so there must be an­other way out. Re­mem­ber, two years ago when Amer­ica de­clared Boko Haram as an in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ist group, govern­ment said no, but now they said yes, we agree, and want for­eign people to as­sist you.

There had been com­plaints that the emer­gency rule was not yield­ing pos­i­tive re­sults be­cause it was not in to­tal­ity…

What is not in to­tal­ity here? You want the gov­er­nors to be sacked, for what? For ex­am­ple, in Adamawa, there is no rea­son to de­clare state of emer­gency, the state is peace­ful, you don’t see Army in the streets of Adamawa, it is peace­ful, ex­cept at the borders. Of all those ar­rested, no sin­gle per­sons is a cit­i­zen of Adamawa State, so why are you pun­ish­ing the whole state? I think the Mil­i­tary are not be­ing sin­cere on why the emer­gency was de­clared in Adamawa. This step is a threat to democ­racy. If Pak­istan and Afghanistan can still or­gan­ise elec­tions and they are still man­ag­ing, there is no rea­son not to hold elec­tions in those states, I think our lead­ers are not sin­cere. You heard what some­body said on VOA, this is weighty and a se­ri­ous in­dict­ment, if people we re­lied upon to save us are the same people who are en­e­mies, then some­thing is wrong.

What is your ex­pec­ta­tion from the na­tional con­fer­ence?

I don’t see any­thing com­ing out of this con­fer­ence it is just for people to talk and go back home. It is like or­ga­niz­ing a sem­i­nar on voter ed­u­ca­tion, the out­come of the sem­i­nar is not bind­ing on INEC to take it. Since there is no le­gal frame­work for the con­fer­ence, so it is a talk shop. The govern­ment wants amend­ment of the Con­sti­tu­tion to pave way for ref­er­en­dum, it would not work.

How then do you think the coun­try can move for­ward?

Dur­ing the at­tack on Amer­ica then, the Democrats, Repub­li­cans and oth­ers came to­gether to move for­ward. But this con­fer­ence, you see people push­ing for eth­nic agenda, per­sonal in­ter­ests and so on. It is good to talk if the people are sin­cere. When you go to con­fer­ence with 10 na­tional agenda and get even two ap­proved, you move for­ward and not that ev­ery­thing must be ap­proved, it does not work like that.

Do you then see the na­tional con­fer­ence as an in­dict­ment on Na­tional As­sem­bly?

We have said it over the years, people are yearn­ing for true fis­cal fed­er­al­ism. We are run­ning an ex­pen­sive federal govern­ment with so much money is go­ing for over­head cost at the ex­pense of cap­i­tal projects for na­tional de­vel­op­ment. We should use the 1993 con­fer­ence to form the ba­sis of re­duc­ing high cost of gov­er­nance. Af­ter all, South African Law­mak­ers stay in their con­stituency, but we are run­ning a govern­ment that is too ex­pen­sive. We must find ways of re­duc­ing that cost. If the Na­tional As­sem­bly has been sin­cere, they would have done the need­ful by amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion, so the con­fer­ence is an in­dict­ment on them the Na­tional As­sem­bly, they know the con­fer­ence re­port is com­ing to them and it would go to the dust bin.

Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan’s am­bi­tion to run in 2015 is be­ing seen as part of the prob­lems con­fronting the coun­try. Do you want the pres­i­dent to run in 2015?

Mr. Pres­i­dent is qual­i­fied to con­test, the Con­sti­tu­tion guar­an­teed him that. Some in­di­vid­u­als whether they are 10, 14 or what­ever num­ber can­not take the duty of the people of Nige­ri­ans that they signed agree­ment, there is noth­ing wrong in a sit­ting pres­i­dent be­ing voted out. What I don’t like is the Pres­i­dent not declar­ing his in­ter­est to con­test when we all know he is in­ter­ested. The cam­paign is on al­ready, but PDP have prob­lems to ad­dress, Mr. Pres­i­dent in­her­ited 27 state gov­er­nors, af­ter the 2011, they dropped to 23, now they are about 19 and there are about three oth­ers whose legs are di­vided be­tween PDP and APC. Mr. Pres­i­dent al­lowed people like Ba­m­aga Tukur to de­stroy the PDP.

Com­rade Olufemi Aduwo

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