Dinidari Foundation Africa held a Town Hall Meeting on Safeguarding Nigeria’s Democracy on 10th June, 2021. In attendance at the meeting are concerned youths, young activists and politicians from all geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
Since 2015, Nigeria has witnessed a vicious crackdown on social critics, bloggers, leaders of religious and indigenous movements, activists and peaceful protests challenging impunity, official corruption and human rights abuses. In addition, there has also been a tide of restrictive legislation, including the NGO Regulatory Bill, the Protection from Internet Falsehood Bill (Social Media Regulatory Bill), the Hate Speech Bill, amongst others. Between May 2015 – May 2017, Space for Change (S4G) a non-governmental organization, tracked 103 incidents of governmental restrictions on free speech, association, religious and assembly rights. Within the same period, the Closing Spaces Database tracked 264 incidents (https://www.justsecurity.org/), while between January 2020 – February 2020, 7 similar cases were recorded. Nigerian Govt. have recently banned Twitter from operation in the country.
Protesters at the popular #EndSARS protest of October 2020 suffered several forms of rights violations from security forces. This included the use of tear gas, water cannons and live ammunitions against the protesters. Apart from the military opening fire on the peaceful protesters at Lekki toll gate and at Alausa, most of the frontline leaders and promoters of the protest either arrested, had their bank accounts frozen or their travel documents seized. The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) also slammed fines on three independent media houses. All the above, and more, are efforts by authorities of the state to suppress and shrink the civic space.
Deliberations and conversations on issues affecting Nigeria’s democracy and national development were discussed at the town hall meeting.
DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Participant decry the increasing totalitarian tendency of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration. They further called on Nigerian Youths not to relent on the fight to safeguard Nigeria’s democracy and urged the judiciary and the press to be more proactive third wheel of democracy.
The insecurity and escalation of violence in different parts of the country continue to be a source of worry to all. Participants laments the mass killing and abduction of Nigerians by Boko Haram, Fulani herdsmen and unknown gunmen and strongly appeals to the Federal Government to ensure that Nigeria gets safer for all.
The Town Hall reviews the state of education in Nigeria and notes with regrets the fall in standards, and the lack of employment for graduates from our tertiary institutions. It calls on government to review curriculum to include vocational training and skills acquisition that will guarantee self-employment on graduation.
2023 GENERAL ELECTIONS
The Town Hall calls on Youths to come out en mass to register to get their voters card as they prepare for the forthcoming General Elections. It commends the Not too Young to Run bill that was passed by the National Assembly. But it views with grave concern the prohibitive cost of obtaining nomination forms for elective offices, which has an undermining effect on the bill, as this makes it further difficult for the youths to secure the nomination to run for key offices. It condemns the exorbitant cost of nomination forms. This is only a contradiction of the ideals for which the Not Too Young to Run Act stands.
It calls on youths to join and participate actively in political parties’ activities. It also calls on political parties to present well-qualified and sound-minded candidates to run for political offices, as the country needs people who can appreciate its problems, proffer solutions and successfully pursue to logical conclusion any proposals towards alleviating the challenges of the country.
It, therefore, calls on INEC and security agents not to compromise their constitutional roles, and to give equal opportunities to political parties and contestants; to maintain the position of an unbiased umpire so that the outcome of the election can reflect the true wishes of the electorate. It calls for peaceful electioneering devoid of violence where campaigns are issue-based reflecting genuine aspirations of the people within the context of their particular campaign issues.
WELFARE OF NIGERIAN WORKERS
The Town Hall calls on government to resolve without delay issues surrounding the agitation of the Nigerian workers for a new minimum wage, noting that the level of poverty amongst Nigerian workers has reached unacceptable level. The suffering of the masses and the near-absence of morality in the distribution of wealth in the country is indicative that the government may be out of touch with its people.
It calls on the Government to give priority’ to the welfare of pensioners who have served the country faithfully. Neglecting them will discourage the workers now in active service from serving faithfully.
Taking the discourse further and to continuously awaken the consciousness of Nigerian youths on their mandate to demand for good governance by strengthening the civic space to effect change in the Nation, Dinidari Foundation in partnership with Henrich Boll is hosting a TV conference to charter a new course towards strengthening the civic space in Nigeria.
Executive Director, Dinidari Foundation
Titilope T. Anifowoshe
COO Dinidari Foundation