By Yomi Odunuga,
Former Lagos State Governor Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has listed five pillars on which a new Nigeria must be rebuilt.
The eminent politician called for concerted efforts to combat grinding poverty with which 70 per cent of Nigerians are grappling, security of life and property, electoral reforms, independence of the judiciary, and true federalism in all its ramifications.
He spoke in Abuja at A Morning of Reflections, an event for the 50th birthday of the publisher of Leadership Newspapers, Mr Sam Nda-Isiah. The event was chaired by former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma.
The former governor noted that though many people have blamed prolonged military rule for the nation’s woes, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has failed in the past 13 years at the centre to address the problems.
Asiwaju Tinubu said Nigerians should blame the ruling party for what he described as “not a mere failure but a very woeful one”.
He identified some of the ills plaguing the polity and clogging its progress.
The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) National Leader listed these as violence in parts of the North, inter-religious strife, inter-ethnic clashes and rising demand by ethnic nationalities, almost across the board, demanding a re-worked federation of Nigeria.
According to him, the solution to these challenges lies in the convocation of a national conference.
Tinubu said: “We must talk, and the time is now! There is no crisis in talking with one another and discussing our problems as a people, towards finding workable solutions.”
He saw the urgency in addressing the nation’s woes collectively, saying: “The nation balances at the edge of the precipice while standing on its weaker foot. Nigerians, in my view, need a conversation or what has been canvassed as a national conference.
“What we see is a serious decline in almost all facets of our national life. We see more corruption, the type that will make past corrupt governments look saintly. We see spiralling unemployment figures, poor electricity supply, general insecurity. We see brazen electoral manipulation. We are confronted with a judiciary that can no longer dispense justice and that is fast losing the confidence and trust of the people, because of too much executive pressure, especially by the ruling party.”
The former governor noted that the most potent danger to the democratic polity was the shackling of the judiciary by rigging judicial procedures in electoral disputes and hounding respected jurists because they would not dance to partisan music.
He cited the case of Justice Isa Ayo Salami, the suspended President of the Court of Appeal.
“The most glaring example of this has been the government’s attempt to cut short the career of one of our illustrious jurists, Court of Appeal President Justice Isa Salami. What was his crime? Refusing to put his sense of justice on sale. For this, they tarnished his name and plotted to end his career. They rumoured that he was in the pockets of the ACN. This is a terrible lie against a good man.
“His verdicts were not for the ACN. They were for justice. However, those in power could not tolerate his impartiality. They sacrificed one of Nigeria’s finest jurists to send a blunt message to other jurists: go against our wishes and you shall lose those robes you hold so dear.”
The former governor added that the same partisan sleight-of-hand has doomed adjudication in election disputes, with the controversial 180-day limit that has denied many aggrieved politicians justice.
“By restricting to 180 days the period in which election cases and disputes must be concluded,” Tinubu warned, “the National Assembly has denied Nigerians electoral justice. It places a moratorium on justice and denies Nigerians one of the fundamental rights enjoyed under a democracy.”
He urged the Federal Government to implement the report of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais report on electoral reform, if the government is serious about ending persistent electoral heists.
Tinubu said: “Our nation and our people have never sunk so low in despair and despondency, as we are today. I will be blunt. I will be political. The PDP-led Federal Government appears to be incapable of confronting the problems of this country.
“A nation must be led either democratically or through dictatorship of any form or guile. We have experienced dictatorship. We have blamed leaders; we have blamed the system. We fought for democracy, which we won. They gave it to us. A particular party has been in power, but what have we got? It’s been lamentation, poverty, lack of motion, sorrow, excuses and lack of development. These are challenges for us to address.
“The elder statesmen are here. They could have sat back in their rocking chairs, drinking fura de nono, eating their slices of bread, whether it’s made of cassava or whatever.
“But if they are still coming around to help us, let us face the challenges. It’s about action to correct this nation.”
Courtesy – The Nation