The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity, has declared that democracy is under strain in Nigeria.
The fraternal association listed its demands for the Federal Government to undertake in order to safeguard democracy in the country.
NAS Capoon Mr Abiola Owoaje, in statement entitled “Democracy under Strain: Solutions for Nigeria”, issued to mark the International Day of Democracy, congratulated Nigerians and the Nigerian government for keeping the fire of democracy burning for 21 years.
‘Although the challenges have been enormous, the collective will of Nigerians has proven stronger than the divisive forces which habitually scuttled our democratic sojourn before now,’ he said.
Owoaje who noted that ‘the people are the centrepiece of any democracy,’ stressed that it is expected that the government would meet the aspirations of the people.
‘Consequently, obnoxious policies like the recent hikes in Premium Motor Spirit pump price and electricity tariff at the same time, without taking into consideration the prevailing socio-economic realities, and the devastating economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, are clearly insensitive, undemocratic, and unacceptable’
The group further stated that a ‘loss of confidence in the integrity of the national electoral process, which is ridden with violence, voter intimidation, ballot rigging and complicity by state actors, heightens concerns about the future of democracy in Nigeria.’
It pointed out that ‘any threat to security in Nigeria, occasioned either by ineffective and harsh economic policies, or the activities of terrorists and other criminal elements, portend great danger to the survival of Nigeria’s democracy.’
Owoaje implored governments at all levels to strive harder towards strengthening the security and welfare of the people, rule of law, equality, rights, liberties, and opportunities.
The group also advocated for political institutions including the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties, pressure groups, the arms of government, mass media, and civil society groups to be strengthened and accorded full independence from interference in the drive towards deepening our democracy.
The statement adds ‘that President Muhammadu Buhari should revisit and sign into law the 2019 Electoral Reform Bill presented to him before the 2019 general elections, and equally ensure a conducive environment for a free press and for civil society organisations to flourish, in the interest of democracy.
‘That equality before the law is non-negotiable in a democracy. The recurrent disobedience of court orders granting bail to Nigerians in criminal proceedings initiated by the Federal Government, and such other brazen illegalities deemed injurious to our body polity are major obstacles to the attainment of enduring democracy. Selective justice, preferential or detrimental treatment in the application of the law is an anathema to democracy.
‘That the Federal Government of Nigeria must do more than the jaded rhetoric of “bringing the perpetrators to book” and other such ineffectual clichés towards finding a lasting solution to the ethnic and religious tensions in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue and other affected parts of the country.’