Protests: ACF Seeks Far-reaching Reforms in Nigeria

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 Tasks govt on nepotism, referendum, salaries of politicians

By John Shiklam

The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), has asked the federal government to use the opportunity provided by the EndSARS protests to embark on sincere and far- reaching reforms in the country.

In a communique issued yesterday at the end of its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Kaduna,

the forum, urged the federal government to engage critical stakeholders to fine-tune the demands of the protesters and have defined timelines for implementations.

The communique signed by the spokesman of the forum, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, noted that: “Some of the areas that stand in dire need for urgent reforms should include but not limited to the following:

“Security architecture, management of law and order: Outcome required is expansion in the quantity and quality of the armed forces and the police; tackling corruption and nepotism as being perpetrated by political office holders.”

The forum noted that in view of the fact that the vast majority of young people cannot find jobs, “it is going to be difficult to achieve good governance or even maintain law and order in Nigeria.”

“We recommend that a judicial commission of enquiry be set up to examine the nature and scale of the money politicians at all levels pay themselves.

“It is necessary to restore sanity in these matters by bringing their payments within acceptable limits taking into cognisance the economic reality of the country,” the communique stated.

The ACF also lamented that “the current Presidential system of government we are running is expensive; in view of our economic and infrastructural demands, the current system should be reviewed through referendum from the double chamber parliament to unicameral legislature among others.

“Such concerns have led several African countries to streamline their legislatures to single chambers including in Senegal, Ghana, Niger, etc.

“Growing the economy, creating jobs and reducing poverty: We require equity, fairness, transparency with full disclosure, in the Central Bank and other government interventions in several key areas.”

The communique maintained that democracy comes with a number of human and peoples’ rights which cannot be abridged or abolished by governments”.

“Among these, are rights to hold and express views, to assembly and even to protest against perceived injustices provided they are done peacefully and do not injure the interests of other people” the communique said.

The ACF said: “Thankfully, the ENDSARS Protests that have raged across the country for over ten days have been largely peaceful until now.

“These protests that have persisted, have continued to evolve and have become increasingly violent.

“Innocent citizens caught in the cross fires have lost their lives. State governors and other political office holders have been attacked.

“Public highways and commercial facilities are being blocked, precipitating a dangerous lockdown of the country.

“This is happening not because the government did not respond to their many demands.

“On the contrary, the federal government has quickly and publicly agreed with the complaints of the protesters and has committed itself to carrying out far reaching reforms to address them.

“The ACF is the first to concede that the standard and quality of governance, especially with respect to policing, criminal justice system, management of law and order etc. have fallen and continues to fall in this country in recent years.

“Substantial part of the north is either under governed or totally ungoverned giving rise to collapse in the economy and social settings of our rural community.

“Reforms of these and other critical areas are long overdue. To that extent, the street protests by our sons and daughters demanding for the reforms, cannot be wrong.

“However, if all they sought to achieve was to draw the attention of the government to this issues, they have already done so successfully and most eminently.

“Therefore their refusal to call off the protests even after the government has openly and repeatedly committed itself to implementing the needed reforms would seem to suggest that the protesters do not trust that the government will implement the promise made or that the protests aim to achieve objectives different from what they have so far declared.

“Having said that, the Arewa Consultative Forum appeals to the federal government with the strongest possible voice, not to let the opportunity presented by these events but to use them to carry out sincere and far reaching reforms especially in the areas our sons and daughters have identified. Government must engage critical stakeholders to fine tune the agreement and have defined timelines for implementations.

“That way, we can hope to stem the current drift towards chaos.”