In 2013, NGOs must return to the trenches (2)
By Chino Obiagwu
Obiagwu continues this week with this article on why the human rights community must go back to the trenches.
The ICC prosecutor opened preliminary examination into the situations to determine if Nigeria’s international justice obligations have been breached. The April 2011 post election violence, incessant cases of kidnapping, assassination, terrorist bombings and attacks on police and military formations, armed attacks on hapless civilians, etc demonstrate the urgency of addressing the situation as a matter of priority.
Jonathan’s administration has failed to take firm and decisive actions to stop the violence and prevent future crimes. Improving the intelligence expertise and institutional capacity of police, SSS and other security agencies are necessary but have been ignored, despite voting close to a trillion naira in the 2012 national budget for security.
Those arrested or fingered in perpetrating violence are not effectively prosecuted. Several reports of commissions of inquiry over past conflicts are not implemented or made public and victims remained without redress. There can be no development and peace when there is no justice.
Justice can only be done when those who commit crimes or infringe on rights of others are prosecuted and punished, and those offended are given remedy where necessary. This is totally absent in Nigeria today. So we live in a society without peace and justice. Civil society activists must rise up in 2013 and demand that justice be restored to our land.
A major social and economic challenge in the country today is the high rates of youth unemployment and job losses. Recent reports from civil society put unemployment rate above 40%, under-employment rate above 65 percent, and much higher rate among those under the age of 30.
The productive segments of the middle class and the lower artisans are completely wiped out in the country whose economy is fast shrinking towards the centre into the hands of less than one percent of the population. The only means of wealth ‘creation’ in Nigeria today is public office through which public funds are stolen.
Industries are closing down and the productive sectors are going extinct. In spite of these difficulties the current government has not demonstrated any commitment or competence to address the macro-economic issues including the power and transport sectors, the two critical drivers of any emerging economy.
The difficulties in accessing small and medium scale credit, and lack of adequate private sector investments in agriculture, cottage industries, and other small scale initiatives reduce the space for employment of our young citizens. Government has not shown sufficient commitment to job creation within the private sector.
It has neither increased motivation for small scale entrepreneurship among the youths nor opened channels for government-backed unsecured credits for young school leavers, and de-investing in critical economic activities in order to attract a truly transparent private sector-driven economy.
Nigeria’s maternal and infant mortalities are still one of the world’s highest, nearly 5000 of every 100,000. Investment over the next four years in primary and maternal health is critical. The much taunted National Heath Bill, which was dead on arrival, have sloppily killed hope in that direction.