– National Conference Delegates and Citizens insist
When the National Conference was convoked in March 2014, some of us that chose to participate in the process did so with the conviction that a Nigeria that we can be proud citizens of is possible. We saw the National Conference as a space for positive contestations and negotiations on what should be the necessary policy, legislative and constitutional directions that would curtail wastages, eliminate corruption and unjust distributive politics that our nation has come to be known for.
We were very clear the conference was not a gift from a generous ruler, but a concession wrested from the jaws of a ruling elite undergoing a crisis that was almost consuming it.
Civil society groups involved in the process did their utmost to mirror and push the desires of Nigerians for an arrangement that promotes full fiscal federalism and where justice and fairness are enthroned. We pushed for the justiciability of human, socio-economic and other rights of citizens and even went as far as pushing for the recognition of the rights of nature to regenerate itself.
At the conclusion of the National Conference, except for a lack of unanimity on aspects of the devolution of power, there were signs that if what were agreed on were implemented the nation would be much better off than current arrangements allow.
Even before the National Conference was set in motion some Nigerians raised doubts about the true intent of the exercise. They argued that what was needed was a Sovereign National Conference whose output would be implemented without being subjected to political manipulation. Some went as far as to say that the timing of the Conference and the selection of delegates were choreographed for political ends, namely to scuttle the 2015 elections.
The President assured all that the true intent was for Nigerians to sit together, discourse the affairs of the nation and chart a way forward for the nation. We note that at the end of the day, apart from some hiccups and heated contestations, the Conference ended with an output that has generally been accepted as a good platform for progress for Nigeria.
We are however surprised that with less than two weeks to the 14 February 2015 date of the Presidential elections, some Nigerians that were delegates to the National Conference held a symposium in Abuja under the banner of the National Conference demanding that the election should be postponed.
We, the undersigned, wish to state unequivocally that:
1. We are not in support of any move to postpone, shift or abandon the election.
2. We believe that four years are long enough to prepare for and conduct an election.
3. We also believe that it will severely insult the sensibility of citizens and also the candidates who have invested so much energy campaigning and preparing for the elections.
4. No one can call for the postponement of the election in our name without our consent.
5. We insist that as things stand now, with the state of preparedness of all stakeholders that the February 2015 general elections can, and must go on according to the already announced schedule.
6. We are convinced that any call or action taken now to the end of postponing, shifting or abandoning the scheduled elections for any form of transitional or interim arrangement will only serve to further inflame the current situation and precipitate a crisis that will almost certainly lead to the termination of the current democratic experience in particular, and the democratisation process in general.
We call on Federal and States Executives to implement the policy recommendations detailed in the National Conference reports without further delay. We also call on the National Assembly to take on board the constitutional amendments agreed to at the Conference.
We are convinced that our nation is at a critical historical junction, and that having a critical role to play in the unfolding events and processes, it is our historical duty to make this stand and to denounce the position of those who have chosen to play games with the fate of our country, and who have chosen to so do in our name without consulting us.
To this end we believe we are speaking on behalf of the Joint Labour-Civil Society Delegation to the 2014 National Conference.
The future of Nigeria and Nigerians must not be toyed with.
God bless Nigeria
Auwal Musa Rafsanjani
Steve Aluko Daniel
Y. Z Yau