The State of the Nation

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THE NIGERIAN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

(NDM)

 

PRESS RELEASE: THE STATE OF THE NATION & SPECTER OF MILITARY RETURN

 

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

 

The Nigerian Democratic Movement hereby takes this unusual step of fully endorsing some recent statements by Chief Abraham Adesanya, Leader of the Afenifere.   We reproduce below the text of his speech at a World Press Conference.  It will be found at the end of this our own press release - "so that the world may know".

Although Chief Adesanya spoke on behalf of his Yoruba constituency, the NDM hereby calls on all other ethnic and non-ethnic constituencies to make similar unambiguous clarion calls against military interventionism in our polity.  Rather than just shout against it, we also urge each constituency also to begin to devise contingency methods of solid opposition, in order to roll military rule back immediately in the event that the "impossible" does happen.

The NDM was formed in the United States in 1993 by Nigerians in the Diaspora, in the crucible of opposition to military rule and the annulment of the June 12 elections.    When dictator General Abacha died in June 1998, and president-elect MKO Abiola was made to follow suit in July, our position that of the patriotic pro-democracy universe: the nation needed a respite, an interregnum to recover from the previous harrowing years.  Our view then and now was that any return to full civilian rule should be delayed for at least two years, while a Government of National Unity (GNU) was installed that would convoke a Sovereign National Conference (SNC).

In its wisdom - or lack thereof - the existing Military Government of General Abdusalami Abubakar decided otherwise, and sped through a six-month pre-election period into an electoral outcome that delivered an eclectic hotch-potch of legislators and executives at the federal, state and government levels. At the federal and state levels, the legislators who had been required to shed their memberships of the now banned Abacha parties - "five fingers of a leprous hand" according to the now late Chief Bola Ige - merely changed their toga into the newly-approved parties.  They did not miss a beat as they used their favorable handicaps to get elected.  At the executive level, the inexhorable pre-arranged plan of the triple axis of the Military, a hegemonistic cabal and some members of the international community to get former General  (now Chief) Olusegun Obasanjo, fresh from Abacha's Gulag,  elected as President was signed, sealed and delivered.

We were unable - some would say powerless - to stop these "dazzling" moves, but secretly hoped that the pervasive logic would hold of a former General being the only one able (out of 120 million Nigerians) to tame a reluctant-to-go military from threatening the polity ever again. 

The first few months of the Obasanjo administration were heady, particularly with retirements from service of so-called "political military men".  However, it has been downhill since then: the administration reached its level of incompetence rather quickly.  The logic first turned on its head as the pervasive "military mentality" of the Federal Executive made it difficult for it to work with the Federal legislature on both routine issues and budgetary affairs.  The false logic has since been further compounded by the fact that serious unrests and avoidable tragedies (such as the January 27 ammunition dump explosion) brought on by neglect of fundamental issues such as of personal security, ethnicity, religion, residency rights, budgetary incontinence, maintenance culture - and the National Question.  Attempts to quell unrests using the Military personnel - in the absence of a grossly inadequate police force - have had terrible consequences at Odi, Gbeji and Zakim-Biam, and given an obvious perception of the Military as the "go-to" problem solvers.

The personal conducts of President Obasanjo and a number of members of his cabinet have not helped.  When critics are selectively insulted with impunity and patriotic advice is arrogantly ignored, the best people in the country refuse to participate because they do not wish to lose their self-esteem. The citizenry is thereby short-changed.  The worsened social, economic and political plight of the people then makes earlier times appear falsely welcome. 

In fact, new calls to old and failed rulers with better personal charm but terrible antecedents of corruption as statecraft to rule once again sometimes rent the air.   The worst calls are for a return to military rule, period.

The NDM says "Never again!"

Our opposition to ANY specter of return to military rule is implacable, NO MATTER how incompetent the civilian government is.   History shows that past incompetence has not been solved by any military government, and in fact the incompetence has been compounded.  We do not wish to have to return to the barricades, although we will do so if we have to.

The NDM therefore urges all patriotic Nigerians to DISABUSE their minds of the return to military rule - or threats thereto.  The constant refrain to "threat to nascent democracy" - meaning a fear of return to military rule - has often been used as a blackmail by our own civilian legislators and their hangers-on as an excuse to do whatever they want, liberty for license.

Even though our legislators display an arrogance that implies that they did not get to where they were with our votes and might yet get re-elected without our votes, both unorganized and organized civil society MUST continue to demand transparency and accountability by all means necessary.  Our demands for a budget with a human face, for adequate security, resource control, true federalism and for a new and popular Constitution via a Sovereign National Conference must continue.

Let it be clear: Whoever should be impeached according to the Constitution - whether President, Governor or Legislator - SHOULD be impeached, and in their place let other persons take according to our Constitution, WHOEVER those persons may be.  We cannot live from day to day in fear of the Military - who after all wear uniforms just like nurses and doctors and lawyers etc., sewn by "tailors", and tout guns bought with our own money.

 

Civilian Government EVER, Military Government NEVER! 

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!

Released by the Executive Council of the NDM

 

http://group.yahoo.com/group/NDM

 

SEE " THREAT TO DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA" - World Press Conference Address by Yoruba Leaders Forum

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