BAILING NIGERIAN DEMOCRACY FROM STIFLING SOCIAL INSECURITY AND WORSENING ECONOMIC CONDITIONS
On this occasion of the 15th BEKO MEMORIAL ANNIVERSARY, The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) and The Beko Rights Klub (BRK) pays our homage to his heroic feats in the struggle for freedom, equity and socio-political and economic justice.
BekoRansome-Kuti was a foremost pro-democracy revolutionary activist who dared all the odds to play several roles in the leadership of the struggles of the oppressed peoples of Nigeria for social emancipation. Beko as popularly called did not only exemplify professionalism as Chairman of Nigerian Medical Association, (NMA), Lagos, his monumental contributions to the ousting of military rule, the enthronement and deepening of democracy remain epochal and serve as sources of inspiration to us today.
In remembrance of BekoRansome-Kuti, The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) and the Beko Rights Klub (BRK) has been marking anniversary of his demise. The theme of this year’s occasion is very apt given that the spate of insecurity in the country has worsened and the economic condition of the country is not faring better.
Presently, Nigeria is confronted by multiple security challenges, notably the resilient Boko Haram Islamist insurgency in the North-East, long-running discontent and militancy in the Niger Delta, increasing violence between herders and farming communities spreading from the central belt southward down to the South-East and South-Western parts of the country, and separatist Biafra agitation in the Igbo South-East. While focusing on the insurgencies in the North-East, Nigeria’s government paid little attention to the deteriorating situation in the North-West, where armed gangs continually killed and maimed innocent farmers and community dwellers. Government soldiers also kill civilians indiscriminately and the Police are notorious for extrajudicial murder.
Violence, particularly by the Boko Haram insurgency, has displaced more than two million people, created a massive humanitarian crisis, and prompted the rise of civilian vigilante self-defence groups that pose new policy dilemmas and possible security risks.Security forces also have to contend with vast, ungoverned territories that they do not know, but which are familiar ground to the criminal gangs and insurgents living there.The different regions in the country are now coming up with various security networks to curb the rising cases of insecurity in their domains. These showthe failure of the Central government to protect the lives and properties of the citizens of the country.
Section 33(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN), 1999, provides that “every person has a right to life, and no one shall be de- prived intentionally of his life, save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria”. This is not the case in our present day Nigeria as people are being killed daily, blood are being shed, precious lives are being lost and there is wanton destruction of properties on a daily basis in different parts of the country.
From the look of things, the country is fast turning to aHobbessian state of nature where life is said to be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short”.
The country’s economy is currently in a bad shape. Our currency, the Naira is very weak compared to other notable currencies around the world. The gap between the rich and the poor keeps widening without concrete steps being taken by the government to amend the grossly imbalanced socio-economic equation. Our youth are busy engaging in illicit online deals while some of them that cannot engage in such deals often embark on dangerous journeys which involves travelling through the desert and on the high seas while desperately searching for greener pastures abroad. Although Chapter 2 of the Nigeria constitution stipulates that the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government, this is not the reality in our present day Nigeria!
Furthermore, the constitution requires the government to harness the resources of the nation and promote national prosperity and an efficient, dynamic and self-reliant economy; control the national economy in such manner as to secure the maximum welfare, freedom and happiness of every citizen on the basis of social justice and equality of status and opportunity.However, the reality today is that socio-economic rights; rights to housing, education, health services etc. which are core components of democracy are glaringly out of the reach of an average Nigerian.
The persistent calls for restructuring have remained because of the failure of government to ensure security of lives and property in the society on the one hand and socio-economic equality on the other. This has orchestrated numerous violent outbursts, armed banditry, kidnappings, assassinations, Niger-Delta/regional uprising, Boko Haram and Herdsmen belligerences.
The economic practice of neo-liberalism that has continued to be imposed on country by successive governments is antithetical to democracy given that it has only succeeded in widening the gap between the rich and the poor. The Bretton Woods institution dictated neo-liberal policies which have failed almost in every country it had been imbibed must be abandoned to achieve a socio-economically harmonious existence of the people.
The government of the day must put on its thinking cap and come up with a lasting solution to the security challenges being faced by the country. The whole security architecture of the Country must be rejig. Government must ensure that rampant corruption which prevents the funds allocated to the troops on the ground from getting to them must be checked.
It’s high time Nigerians wake up from their slumber and invigorate the struggles for social emancipation holistically because the present status quo will perpetually ensure penury in their lives if the system is not overhauled and replaced with a more humane one that would guarantee the social welfare and security of lives and properties. Today, if Beko was to be alive, he shall definitely lead the campaign for the security of lives and properties and socio-economic rights of all and sundry, not engaging in the frivolities and inanities of the present political jobbers.