-Accountability On COVID-19 Expenses From AKSG

-LG Financial Autonomy In Akwa Ibom

-Repeal Of Akwa Ibom Governors Pension Law, 2014, Others

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On June 12, 2020 Nigeria celebrated its democracy, albeit in hushed tones, due to the ravaging and rampaging COVID19 pandemic. Despite the hushed celebrations on that day, true lovers of democracy and indeed true progressives are quite enthused that our democracy is being celebrated on the day. That Nigeria’s democracy is being celebrated on June 12 rather than the hitherto May 29th date, is in itself quite profound.

As you may recall, June 12, 1993 was the day Nigerians trooped out en masse to cast their votes for their preferred candidate, MKO Abiola. The Nigerian people clearly expressed their will and intent at the polls. That election had been adjudged the freest and fairest election ever in Nigeria. But this freely expressed will of the people was truncated by the ruling military junta led by Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida.

At the return of democratic rule in 1999, the civil society and progressives have been advocating for June 12th to be celebrated as democracy day in the country. But this was not to be, until the Federal government led by President Mohammadu Buhari declared June 12 as the new Democracy Day on June 6, 2018. And the celebration has eventually taken place for the first time this year.

The Akwa Ibom State Civil Society Organisations Forum, the Akwa Ibom State branch of Civil Liberties Organisation and the Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community wish to commend President Mohammadu Buhari for the strength of will to proclaim June12 as Nigeria’s Democracy Day. We celebrate you, President Mohammadu Buhari.

June 12 is, indeed, a fitting day to celebrate democracy in Nigeria as it embodies the aspirations of the citizens of this great country. June 12 epitomizes precepts that guarantee good governance and the right of citizens to choose who they desire to lead them. It also epitomizes true Nigerianness where difference in tribe and tongue do not matter, where the choice of who leads is not because he is from any particular ethnic group but because he or she is deemed to have the capacity to lead the nation and deliver public good at that material time.

So, celebrating democracy Day on June 12 this year, we have assurance the federal government recognizes the value of participatory democracy.

The Akwa Ibom State Civil Society Organizations Forum, the Akwa Ibom State branch of Civil Liberties Organisation and The Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community recognizes that more than celebrating June 12, the tenets of democracy need to be entrenched in Nigeria’s body polity to ensure her social and economic development.

Following therefrom, we plead as follows:

  1. The President should assent to the Electoral Reform Bill to ensure free and fair elections as well as ensure that those who flout electoral laws face the full brunt of the law.
  2. The president to ensure that the different arms and levels of government are independent and operate as they should.
  3. We commend the president’s directive to ensure financial autonomy to local government councils in the country through the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) in 2019, while we observe that the directive has not been complied with in Akwa Ibom State as the 31 local government councils are still depending on the State Joint Account for their allocation, which normally gets tempered with by state government officials. We therefore call on the state government to implement this executive order as it would ensure the dividends of democracy trickle down to the grassroots.
  4. We also applaud Mr. President for signing the Executive Order 10 which grants financial autonomy to state Houses of Assembly and the Judiciary and urge him not to yield to pressure from the state Governors, but to Gazatte the Order in order to leave behind lasting democratic landmarks in the country.
  5. We call on the governor of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, to assent to the sunshine bills – The Public Procurement and Fiscal Responsibility Bills already passed by the state house of Assembly.
  6. We urge the State House of Assembly to urgently re-introduce and pass the state version of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which had been returned to it by the Governor in order to put Akwa Ibom state amongst states of the federation with better criminal justice system.
  7. The State government to sign on to the Open Government Partnership that guarantees citizen participation in government. Akwa Ibom State should have been one of the frontline states to sign on to OGP after the Federal Government signed on in 2016.
  8. The state legislature to urgently domesticate the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPPA).
  9. We call on the State House of Assembly to repeal the “Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law, 2014,” which provides for life pension and other benefits to persons who served the state as Governors and Deputy Governors.
  10. We take note of the palliative the Akwa Ibom State Government has given to Ibom Air. We hereby express our reservation as this intervention is totally uncalled for. Especially, when the real and beneficial ownership of the airline is still shrouded in secrecy. What has been the contribution of the airline to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the State? Has this donation been properly appropriated?
  11. After a careful consideration of the various factories and industries reportedly established in the State, it would be great to know the value of the Akwa Ibom State Government equity participation in the various industries and factories. And what has been the corresponding contributions of these factories/industries in stimulating the local economy thus far?
  12. While commending the State Government for its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state, citizens are yet to be informed how much the State Government received, and what it has spent so far in managing the crises?

“The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerated the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or any controlling private power.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt.

We call on government at all levels to ensure that power reverts to the people. We call on the mass of Nigerians to rise up to their rightful place and take charge of their leadership.

God bless Nigeria!
God bless Akwa Ibom State!!

Harry Udoh
(Akwa Ibom Civil Society Organizations Forum)

Otuekong Franklyn Isong
(Civil Liberties Organisation)

Barr. Clifford Thomas
(The Akwa Ibom Human Rights Community)

Dated: Monday, 15th June, 2020.


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