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May 29 Represents Nigeria’s Anti-Democratic Foundation, Says Afenifere

By Segun Balogun
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The Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG) has said the only significance that May 29 has in Nigeria's history is that it represents the faulty foundations upon which the country's democratic governance stands.

The group, in a statement released to the media yesterday by its Publicity Secretary, Kunle Famoriyo, said nobody should therefore expect the current democratic governance to produce the desired good governance.

The statement said May 29 signifies two events in Nigeria's history - the 1962 declaration of state of emergency in Western Nigeria and the commencement of Nigeria's Fourth Republic in 1999.

'These two events do not evoke prideful memories of Nigeria and for its citizens. The 1962 episode precipitated catastrophic chains of events that eventually ended the First Republic. Elected officials in 1999 did not see the Constitution they swore to uphold until after their inaugurations, leading to the prevention of proper foundation for Constitutional Governance and which has resulted in the decay in governance and acute abuse of powers,' the statement said.

'As a nation, we must address our mind to the effects of these two illegalities, some of which are undemocratic dividends, weak institutions, rising unemployment and poverty, loss of political values and principle, deepening corruption, and a bleak future for the nation. Apart from those benefitting from government's corrupt and nepotistic policies, can any Nigerian really claim that May 29 is worth celebrating as a country?'

'As we all reflect on the significance of May 29 in Nigeria's history, it is important to note that the politics that engineered these two events were spurred by hegemonic political tendencies seeking to impose its ideals on a democratic society. Therefore, we should not expect that the foundation of Nigeria's democratic governance, which is based on anti-democratic tenets, will ever produce the desired good governance.'

The group said attention must shift away from the much touted search for 'good leaders' to having a good structure that enables good leadership, adding that if a building that is under construction has a faulty foundation, changing the contractor will not solve the problem.

'Our quest for good governance must therefore move away from a perpetual search for a 'good leader,' as if such is a silver bullet. The solution to Nigeria's political challenges is captured in a UN [June 2012] report titled, 'Realising the Future we want for All', when it states that 'business as usual cannot be an option It is critical to promote equitable change that ensures people's ability to choose their value systems in peace, thereby allowing for full participation and empowerment''

'The implication of this is that the unity of Nigeria is negotiable and must be negotiated, informed by the wishes of the constituent ethnic nations and not according to the dictate of an imposed Constitution.

Afenifere Renewal Group thus enjoins all Nigerians to prevail on delegates at the ongoing National Confab to demand a new Constitution anchored on true federal structure, as this may be the last golden opportunity for a peaceable resolution of the country's problems. Failure to achieve this may be Nigeria's death knell.'

Segun Balogun
Programme Officer
Afenifere Renewal Group
23, Fola Jinadu Crescent,
Gbagada, Lagos.